By Surekha Vijh
Washington DC: Indian American community in the greater Washington area is enthused about the 2020 election despite Covid 19 or Coronavirus.
“I feel proud to be both an Indian American and a woman,” said Lata Priyadarshini, with Kamala Harris as the vice-presidential candidate for 2020.”
“It will be exciting to see the presidential race in 2024 between two Indian American women Harris and Haley, as it is speculated,” added Priyadarshini, a Fairfax County school teacher and an activist in Indian American community.
“This definitely is a crucial election,” said Arvind Krishna, an engineer retired and a Vienna resident, who came to the US in the 1960s. “One could never imagine then that Indian Americans would rise high in US politics so quickly.”
“Seeing Kamala Harris, who projects both as an Indian American and a black, as a vice-presidential candidate is exciting,” added Krishna. “I think Harris comes across a genuine person, and between Biden and Trump, surely Biden.”
When asked Manjula Kumar, whom she preferred in 2020 Trump or Biden. “Undoubtedly Biden. Trump has done too much damage already,” she replied.
“It would be exhilarating to see two Indian American women as presidential candidate in 2024.,” added Kumar, a former Program Director with Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. She is now working as an Independent Arts Consultant and Programmer.
While Gulshan Madhur, a former VOA broadcaster, said, “As for my vote is concerned, it will be for the basic human values and whoever upholds them. In that sense Democrats have a better record.”
“Both the ladies are pleasant and versatile personalities, but Harris obviously has a courage of conviction,” he added.
Zafar Iqbal, Indian American researcher, who hails from Hyderabad, India, lives in Maryland said, “Indian American community should get meaningfully involved in making the maximum possible positive impact in this critically important election.”
“We are requesting the community to write post cards to deregistered (purged from the rolls) voters of color in swing states; phone banking; mass texting; and letter writing to targeted groups and discuss how each method worked and the organizations with which we expect to work.”
“We definitely want a liberal as the next president,” Zafar added.
Speaking to a cross section of Indian community here, one got the impression that Biden a better choice for the country as the next president. A few did prefer Trump to continue as the president to keep the economy in motion and to keep China at bay.
Most of the Indian Americans even looked forward to the 2024 presidential elections, calling ‘an Indian flavor’ and the year 2024 as Harris vs Haley, the year might see the two American women of Indian heritage from opposite sections of the political aisle to go up against each other.
Nikki Haley, last week, offering an endorsement to Donald Trump at the GOP convention, invoked her Indian roots, and said America was not a racist country.
Haley, the first generation of Indian American said in her speech that her parents faced hardships when they first arrived in US, and the struggles they endured ‘to forge a life for themselves so she could have the opportunities she did. Her parents came from Amritsar, India in the 60’s.
Haley, who was twice the governor of South Carolina, stepped down from her post as UN ambassador at the end of 2018, said at the GOP convention that the US president had a “record of strength and success,” while his rival Joe Biden had one of “weakness and failure.”
Her address came as symbolic as it came just after the California Senator Kamala Harris’ nomination as the Democratic nomination for the next vice-President.
Meanwhile Harris became both, the first woman of African heritage, and the first woman of Indian American heritage to run on a major-party presidential ticket.
The California senator, who earlier ran against Biden in the Democratic primaries, comes from a family of immigrants. Her father was from Jamaica and her mother was from Tamil Nadu, India.
The Democrats are hoping with Kamala Harris as Biden’s running mate will strengthen them and will add fervor for the Democratic presidential candidate among people of color and women.
Biden, who will turn 81 in 2024 US elections, has also categorically stated that he viewed himself as a ‘transition’ candidate who will not stand for a second term if elected, paving the way for Harris to become the Democratic front-runner for the top job.
On the other hand, with experience on the domestic and foreign policy front, Haley has been working on her role as future leader of the country. She has been fundraising, writing op-eds on foreign policy, and has also written a book, With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace.
Although there is a strong sense among the Indian Americans that the 2024 presidential elections will be the year for two American women of Indian heritage, but as such, there can be many twists and turns between now and then, Definitely it was a time to watch the Indian American community as the frontrunners both in 2020 and 2024 elections.