Jindal explores White House run, Indian-Americans soften hostility

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: May 20, 2015 23:41 IST

If Bobby Jindal, who has set up a committee to explore a presidential run, does jump in, Indian-Americans appear ready to support him, overcoming past reservations.

The community, which has about 1.5 million votes and considerably more financial clout, has felt aggrieved by, as seen by it, a studied attempt by Jindal to distance himself from it. Many of them supported him in his previous races - for governor and congress - irrespective of their party affiliations, and felt "dumped", as he cut himself loose, apparently.

Jindal announced an exploratory committee for the 2016 race - an optional first-step towards a full-fledged run - on Monday, saying, "For some time now, my wife Supriya and I have been thinking and praying about whether to run for the Presidency." Jindal, a two-term Louisiana governor, has been preparing for a run for a while, but has trailed badly in most opinion polls.

But if decides to press ahead, and run, he will find Indian Americans ready to welcome him back into the fold, and support his candidacy, if he asked and worked towards it. "He is good man, a bright guy," said KV Kumar, who has worked with two Republican presidents. "People misunderstand him for the way he speaks. He needs to change that.'

Jindal said some weeks ago that he was tired of hyphenated Americans. "I don't know about you, I'm tired of the hyphenated Americans. No more African-Americans. No more Indian-Americans. No more Asian-Americans." He added his parents came to the US not to raise Indian-Americans.

But there is a growing understanding in the community of why, if at all, Jindal did indeed move away from it. He had to, they acknowledged, to broaden his appeal. "He probably did that to appear mainstream," said Puneet Ahluwalia, a Republican strategist, adding, "and that's a good enough reason."

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