NRI: Indian Americans and Super Tuesday

Indian Americans set for Super Tuesday
Lalit K JhaThursday, January 31, 2008 (New York)
      The large Indian American community, which is gradually increasing its participation in the US political arena, are now geared up for the forthcoming Super Duper Tuesday next week on February 5.

Volunteers and community leaders are fanning out to the region in support of their leaders and organizing dozens of fund raising events across the country in the next few days.

Almost all the States where Indian Americans have sizeable presence and are politically active namely New York, New Jersey, California and Illinois go to the primaries and caucuses February 5. Texas, where Indian Americans are in sizeable numbers, is the only left out State.

Indian American political leaders said at a time when the elections is being bitterly contested and the margin of victories is expected to be very narrow, this is the time for the community to turn up in large numbers and show to both the Republicans and Democrats that they do have weight. The Indian American community so far has been known more for donating money or raising funds rather than coming out of their homes to vote.

Democrat Indian-Americans

”We expect the turn out to be low this time as elections in February are not very common. This is the time for the Indian Americans to come out in large numbers to participate in the primaries,” Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula from New Jersey told NDTV. Chivukula, among the few Indian American State lawmakers in the country, is all set to be elected as Democrat delegate.

Chivukula is pitching for the New York Senator Hillary Clinton, the former first lady, who is bitterly pitted against the charismatic Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Majority of the Indian Americans, be it in New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois or Georgia, are supporting for Clinton said Sant Chatwal one of her key supporters and major fund raiser.

Political observers say that for the Democrat Indian Americans the choice for them is very clear. While the majority of them support Hillary Clinton, it is mostly the younger generation who are attracted by Obama’s vision.

Chatwal, who is leading the Indian American Democrat campaign said a large number of events have been, organized all over the country in the run-up to the February 5 elections. Emphasis is to get as many people to get out voting, he said.

South Asians for Obama (SAFO) helped attract a large number of Indian Americans for the Obama fundraiser luncheon held in New York on Wednesday. The luncheon was addressed by Michelle Obama, spouse of Barack Obama.

Republican Indian Americans

The Indian American, who are traditionally a Republican supporter, are still to make up their mind whom to support in the primaries – mainly because of the emergence of some little known candidates and the narrow margin of victories in the elections.

So far majority of them were banking on the former New York Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, who had a considerable support based among the community. Indian Americans in Florida had supported Giuliani and raised funds for them.

However, with Giuliani withdrawing from the race, the choice is mainly restricted between Senator John McCain, now the frontrunner after Florida victory and Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor.

”Indian Americans now seem to be moving towards supporting McCain,” said Republican leader Sampat Shivangi. This is mainly because McCain is more known face than Romney. However, the Indian-Americans are expected to pitch here only at the last moment in the run up to the February 5 elections.

Meanwhile, Hindu American Foundation – a Washington-based Hindu advocacy group run by second generation Indian Americans – has come out opposing Mike Huckabee, another prominent Republican candidate in the fray so far.

In a statement, the foundation expressed deep concern and worry about Huckabee’s call to amend the US Constitution according to ”God’s standards”.

”To call for an amendment of the Constitution so that it will hew to an individual’s or group’s version of ‘God’s standards,’ is a recipe for fundamentalism and extremism to creep into the founding document of the United States,” said Ramesh Rao, senior fellow at HAF.

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