Gabbard, first Hindu in US Congress, set to be sworn in

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • |
  • Updated: Jan 03, 2013 22:56 IST

When US army veteran Tulsi Gabbard steps up to be sworn in as a member of the US House of Representatives on Thursday she would be gripping a copy of the Bhagavat Gita.

Gabbard will become the first Hindu member of the House.

And Ami Bera a physician from California, will also make history becoming only the third Indian American — and the first physician from the community — elected to the US House.

Gabbard and Bera represent the growing clout of minorities in US politics, recognised and wooed avidly by Democrats and, increasingly now, Republicans.

“My Hinduism ... has taught me that true happiness comes when you’re doing things for other people and not just living for yourself,” Gabbard said.

Gabbard, who comes from Hawaii, which is where President Barack Obama grew up, got her faith from her mother, a caucasian Hindu. Her father remains a Christian.

“Gabbard won while proudly espousing her Hinduism and voicing a willingness to be a strong voice for Hindu Americans,”  Aseem Shukla of the Hindu American Foundation had said at her election.

She has notched another first by becoming the first woman combat veteran elected to the US House. She was deployed twice, including a stint in Iraq.

Though Gabbard will begin her term on Thursday, she is ready to move: to the Senate. She is in the race for a vacancy created by the passing of one of two Hawaii senators recently.

Bera, however, is thinking only of his first term in the US House, to which he was elected as a Democrat, beating the incumbent, a Republican.

This was Bera’s second run, losing to Dan Lungren in 2010.

Bera becomes Thursday only the third Indian American elected to US congress, following Dalip Singh Saund in the 1960s and Bobby Jindal in 2004.

There are 3 million Americans of Indian origin and they are acutely aware of their growing political clout, with a record number of them running for office in 2012.


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