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Republicans welcome NRIs into fold

world Updated: Aug 31, 2012 00:27 IST
Yashwant Raj

The Republican Party on Wednesday announced a new political reality in the US: Indian-Americans are no longer a Democratic Party monopoly.

It had Ishwar Singh, a Sikh American of Indian origin, lead the prayer opening the third day of its national convention. A Rabbi did the honours the previous day. And then it had Yash Wadhwa, a small businessman of Indian origin from Wisconsin, talk about the power of the American dream, always a powerful rallying cry.

At 3 million, the Indian-Americans are the third largest Asian American community, trailing the Chinese and the Filipinos. But they are the most prosperous minority community.

"I came here with just $2 in my pocket," said Wadhwa. One of the many small business owners invited to the convention, he was the only Asian American.

"That all or most Indian Americans vote and support the Democratic party is one of the biggest myths around," said Ravi Singh, a political consultant for many campaigns.

They are almost evenly split on the Federal Election Commission's list of donors to the two parties, their candidates or their respective political action committees.

But Indian Americans are indeed seen as staunch Democrats, even when the two governors from the community - Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal - are both Republicans.

The Republican convention recognised another Indian American earlier, Ricky Gill, who is running for the House of Representative from California.

But for every Gill or Wadhwa in the Republican Party, there is Manan Trivedi or Ami Bera in the Democratic Party - both candidates for House of representatives. "But doesn't that overturn the myth of Democrats holding a sway over Indian Americans?" said Singh.