Will Bharara be Obama's next attorney general?

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, New York
  • Updated: Sep 26, 2014 09:10 IST

President Barack Obama’s friend and attorney general of six years Eric Holder is leaving office, and among those who could succeed him are two candidates of Indian American descent.

Preet Bharara, the man who busted Wall Street and an Indian diplomat, is one of them. And the other is Kamala Harris, California’s attorney general, who said she is not interested.

If it is one of them, it would be a second major appointment for the Indian American community in recent days — Rich Verma was nominated last week to be the next ambassador to India.

There are a whole host of others in speculation — Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, an African American like Obama and Holder, some senators, and past and present officials.

Patrick is every punter’s favourite, having once been considered by Obama for that job. But he seems to have taken himself out of the race saying it’s not yet time for him to consider it.

Bharara’s name gets tossed around every time a senior legal position falls vacant in Washington DC, with the all-too familiar tributes to his brilliance and political savvy.

As Obama’s US attorney for South District of New York, which makes the him the sheriff of the Wall Street, he has built up a fearsome reputation — 85-1 convictions for insider trading.

Among those he got convicted were Indian Americans Rajat Gupta and Mathew Martoma for insider trading and Dinesh D’souza, a conservative commentator, for election fraud.

Born in Punjab to a Sikh father and Hindu mother, Bharara came to the US with his family when he was only two then. He and his brother Vinnie, grew up in New Jersey.

Bharara’s image in India took a mauling earlier this year over the arrest and prosecution of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade for alleged visa fraud.

He felt hurt and angry, but kept it to himself. In June he said he would have taken the criticism, even though it was completely without merit, “except that it bothered my parents”.

Harris, the other Indian American favourite, is also of African descent — from her father. But she said she doesn’t want Holder’s job — she is running for re-election.

Obama, who, the White House has said was friends with Harris, created a minor flutter in 2013 describing her the country’s best looking attorney general. He apologised.

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