The 2016 Republican National Convention at Cleveland, Ohio, last week had its share of hits, misses and drama for the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. The convention also saw some high profile support for Trump from the India American community, which has historically leaned towards the Democratic Party.
Organised under the Republican Hindu Coalition, an Indian American lobby group that was launched late last year, prominent supporters of Trump hosted former speaker of the US House Newt Gingrich and Abhay Patel, Republican candidate for US Senate from Louisiana, for a breakfast during the RNC in Cleveland.
“Through the Indian American advisory council of the House Republican conference, we will campaign for Trump as president and feel that when we educate Indian Americans about his policies they will be able to understand that he will be a far better president for them than Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton,” national chairman of the RHC Shalabh (Shalli) Kumar, Chigaco based businessman, told ET.
Kumar, according to top American political website The Hill, has emerged a top Trump donor already having sent $898,800 together with his wife to Trump Victory, the joint fundraising arrangement between the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and 11 state parties. Also a strong supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kumar told ET Magazine that he was pledging $1.1 million for Trump’s presidential campaign in keeping with the rules guiding such contributions in the US.
“We are also planning to organise a mega Bollywood fund-raiser event in the US for victims of terror in the US and around the world which will serve as a forum to reach out to Indian American supporters and donors for Trump’s presidential bid,” Kumar said adding that the RHC also plans high-profile events to raise funds and rally support among the Indian American community especially in battleground states such as New Jersey, Florida, Ohio and Iowa.
Even in terms of US-India relations, Trump would be a better president than Clinton, Kumar felt adding that the Republican candidate was committed to a firm foreign policy of strength against radical Islamic terrorism and policies that keep in mind America’s economic security.
And Kumar was not the only Indian American drumming up support for the Republicans and Trump at the RNC. Avinash Iragavarapu, executive director for the Arizona Republican Party, who was at Cleveland too, felt that there has been a shift among Indian Americans, in support of the Republican Party. “The Republican Party platform supports free markets, less governance, balancing budget, revitalizing the growth of economy, reducing taxes. These policies help in providing equal opportunities for everyone and businesses. Most young Indian Americans are aspirational and hardworking people, they don’t want a government which believes in free hand-outs,” Iragavarapu, a campaign manager who had helped many Republicans win or retain seats with his involvement in the Arizona GOP 2014 campaign, said. He is now responsible the victory of Republican Party in Arizona, an exercise that includes more than 40 different races – Presidential, US Congress and US senate, Arizona. “The Indian American community was very well represented at the RNC 2016 with former governor Bobby Jindal and Governor Nikki Haley,” he added. Significantly, on the second day of convention, a Sikh prayer was recited at the start by California lawyer and Republican Party member Harmeet Dhillon.
New Jersey based Indian American professor Dr Amar Dev Amar, president of Indian-Americans for Trump 2016 – a political action committee that was registered early this year, feels that now with the formal nomination being announced at the RNC, it will be much easier to raise funds from the community. “With the restrictions now being eased, we will be able to hold more fund-raisers and will also work towards raising consciousness among American law makers about the Indian American community and some of our issues,” he said.
Even for those Indian Americans who don’t directly support Trump, the RNC in Cleveland was a landmark event. “It is a wonderful celebration for our party. The convention has turned out very well here in Cleveland. As we all know, Ohio is the most important swing state in the country, so having the RNC here is special,” said Niraj J Antani, an Indian American Republican in the Ohio house of representatives, who is not a campaign surrogate for Trump, a term used to describe a person who acts on the behalf of a candidate.
Some of the issues that are attracting Indian Americans to the Trump campaign include the global terrorism threat and the American economy, feel analysts. “The main takeaway from the Cleveland RNC was that after the 2012 presidential election, the Republicans had promised a bigger outreach to the Indian American community, but that has not happened. And even as the Trump campaign team gets finalised, we don’t see too many Indian American faces in it,” said Sanjay Puri, chairman of the US India Political Action Committee.
Source- The Economic Times Blogs