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US: Republicans reach out to Indian-Americans

india Updated: Mar 04, 2014 11:07 IST

Governors Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal won't do. The Republican Party wants the support of all Indian-Americans as well as other minorities such as African-Americans and Hispanics.

The party on Monday announced three national advisory councils to spearhead outreach to the three communities hoping to benefit from their growing electoral clout.

"I want to ensure the Republican Party is building sincere relationships in every community across the country," said Republican Party chief Reince Priebus.

At stake is a fourth of the American electorate that the Republican Party has ignored so far, banking solely on its traditional support base of non-Hispanic whites.

However, the 2012 poll debacle, when it lost the White House race and seats in the House, came as a turning point. The party felt it needed the electorally consequential minorities.

The three communities together accounted for 27.1% of eligible voters in 2012 — 12.5% African-Americans, 10.8% Hispanics and 3.8% Asian-Americans.

And their number was growing at a much faster rate than the Republican Party's base of non-Hispanic whites — who remained the dominant group at around 71%.

Indian-Americans are a big part of that surge, clocking in at 3.2 million. Though only about half of them can vote, and of which only a quarter actually do, according to estimates.

But, they are among the most prosperous communities and contribute generously to campaigns — at all levels, going up to the presidential race, which re-doubles their allure.

They also have tended to be historically Democratic, with their votes and their cheque books, living in traditionally blue states such as California, New York and New Jersey.

They are done writing cheques and now want a piece of the action themselves.

More Indian-Americans have been contesting elections in recent years than ever before. That's where the Republicans spy a chance.

"The Republican Party ignored Asian-Americans, particularly Indian-Americans," said a veteran party operative, adding, "They wanted our money but not us."

Now, it expects more from the community than Jindal and Haley, the only two Indian American governors in the US, who are from the Republican Party.

Puneet Ahluwalia, a political consultant named to the Asian American council, said it was a good start for the party which needs to pitch itself to Indian-Americans.

He believes Indian-Americans can help the Republican Party make a difference in many crucial elections, specially in the swing states of Florida, Ohio and Virginia.

KV Kumar, a party veteran from the Reagan administration who was also named to the council, said he agreed for the sake of young Indian-American Republicans.

"I want to make sure they got a fair chance," said Kumar.