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With five in, Indian-Americans hope to double representation in US Congress

india Updated: Jan 05, 2017 14:07 IST

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard lights a lamp at Indiaspora Gala in Washington DC on Tuesday.(PTI file photo)

With a record five Indian Americans elected to the US Congress, the minority community has now set its eyes on doubling the number of its lawmakers followed by a White House occupant.

The goal, which might look difficult, was set by the three-term Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera, who is now the senior-most of the four Indian-Americans members in the US House of Representatives.

Read: Power play: Indian-American Fab Five formally enter US Congress on Tuesday

“Today is a historic day,” Bera, 51, told a gathering of eminent Indian-Americans gathered from across the country to celebrate the election of Indian-Americans.

Bera, who was elected for the first time to the US House of Representatives in 2012, said he was joined by three other Indian-Americans in the House: Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois, Pramila Jayapal from Washington State and Ro Khanna from California.

Kamala Harris was also sworn in as the first Indian- American senator in the Congress.

Four years ago, at a community reception in his honour in Washington DC, Bera had said he wanted to have five Indian-Americans in the Congress, including a senator.

“This is now a reality,” chipped in Congressman Joe Crowley, a former co-chair of the Congressional India caucus, in his address to the Indiaspora gala.

“What is remarkable that in one generation our community has done so much,” Bera said as he introduced the newly- elected Indian-Americans in the House to the hundreds of community members.

“Now we need to set a goal of having 10 Congressmen and our own Indian American president,” Bera said, as his sentiment echoed in speeches throughout the night.

Raja Krishnamoorthi at an election night event in Schaumburg on November 8, 2016. (AP file photo)

“We have come a long way, but we have long ways to go,” said Silicon Valley-based venture capitalist and philanthropist MR Rangaswami, the brain behind the gala.

“I am so proud to be elected as the first Indian-American women to the US House of Representatives,” said Jayapal. “What I hope and believe that I would be the first Indian American woman elected to the Congress, but would certainly not be the last one,” she said, urging the younger generation members of the community to join politics.

“We are going to make sure that Indian-Americans across the country see our election not only as personal victories for ourselves and our district and our country, but as opportunities and role models for others to be engaged in democracy to run for office themselves,” Jayapal added.

The election of five Indian-Americans to the Congress is “really a testament” of the accomplishments of the community, noted Krishnamoorthi.

“For all of those in the audience tonight who are thinking about running for office, there is no better time than now. You have role models, we have play book. It’s time to get started,” Krishnamoorthi said.