Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu member of the US Congress, has been elected co-chair of the India caucus of the House of Representatives, the largest country-specific, bipartisan group of lawmakers that focuses on building India-US ties.
Gabbard, a Democratic member of the House from Hawaii, joins George Holding, a Republican from North Carolina, as co-chair. She replaces Ami Bera, one of the four Indian American members of the House of Representatives.
Gabbard’s election, which took place some days ago, was formally announced at an event on Capitol Hill hosted by the India-US Friendship Council and US-India Business Council on Wednesday.
Gabbard has struck up a close relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Senior BJP leader Ram Madhav represented Modi at her 2015 Hawaii wedding, which was also attended by then acting Indian ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu.
In 2012, Gabbard became the first Hindu to become a member of the US Congress on her election to the House, the lower chamber, and has since been treated by Indian Americans, a large number of who are also Hindus, as one of their own.
The three Indian Americans elected till then — Dalip Singh Saund, Bobby Jindal and Bera — were Sikh, Christian and Unitarian Christian respectively.
The US Senate has its own India caucus, which is headed by John Cornyn, a Republican representing Texas, and John Warner, a Democrat from Virginia.