An Indian season in US polls

PTI | ByGurmukh Singh, Los Angeles
Nov 04, 2004 06:15 PM IST

With the historic victory of Bobby Jindal, the Indian political innings in the US has just begun, writes Gurmukh Singh from Los Angeles.

With the historic entry of Bobby Jindal to the US Congress — not to mention the victories of Nikki Randhawa Haley to the South Carolina Assembly and Swati Dandekar to the Iowa House and the presence of assemblyman Upendra Chikvula in New Jersey, state senator Satveer Choudhary in Minnesota, Assemblyman Kumar Bharve in Maryland — the two-million-strong Indian-American community has politically arrived. 

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After the three terms of Dalip Singh Saund to the US House from 1956 to 1962, Jindal is the second person of Indian origin to win election to Congress. After Saund, many Asian-Americans of Chinese and Japanese origin became Congressmen, but Indian-Americans had to wait for another 40 years till Bobby Jindal broke that drought yesterday. 

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In comparison, there are seven Indians, including Health Minister Dosanjh, in the Canadian Parliament and four in the British House of Commons and at least five in the House of Lords.

And now, in the first election of the 21st century in this self-described "greatest nation on Earth," Indians have registered their political presence with a vengeance.

Forget about the landslide wins of Bobby Jindal and Nikki Randhawa Haley. Forget about Swati Dandekar's encore in Iowa. Just look at the number of Indians who fought and won — and lost — elections at various levels this week.

As many as 28 Indians were in the fray — from the US Congress to mayorship to city councils to boards and commissions.

Indians here are as much enthused by the victories of Bobby Jindal to Congress, Swati Dandekar to the Iowa House of Representatives and Nikki Randhawa-Haley to the South Carolina House of Representatives as by those registered in counties and councils where Indians participated in a big way.

In California, many Indians drubbed their opponents in the elections to city councils. If Shinku Sharma won in the Saratoga Union School District in Santa Clara County; Jagrup Sidhu romped home in the Kerman City Council in Fresno County and Harry Sidhu in the Anaheim City Council in Orange County.

In District of Columbia, Mital Gandhi was voted to the Advisory Neighbourhood Commission of Northwest Washington.

Rajendra Ratnesar of Alameda County in California made his way into the Board of Directors of Eden Township Health Care District.

However, others were not so lucky. 

The high-profile among them is Sylvester Fernandez  of New Jersey who took on Indian Caucus founder and Padma Shri Frank Pollone for the US House of representatives from 6th Congressional District. 

Another high-profile Indian Jay Rao (Republican) put up a good fight by garnering 42.9 per cent of the vote in his bid for the post of the North Carolina Secretary of State. In this country, the secretary of state is equivalent to the chief election officer in an Indian states.

In New York, Brian Jayakumar (Democrat) lost in the race for the New York State Senate. So did Sid Das (Democrat) in his bid for the New Hampshire House of Representatives. 

In the southern state of Arizona, Rano Singh (Democrat) unsuccessfully contested for the Arizona House of Representatives.

Interestingly, two Indians ran for mayorship. In Puerto Rico, Eduardo Bhatia lost the race for mayorship of San Juan despite winning 46 per cent of the vote. In California, Brahma Sharma lost his bid for the mayorship of Pisom Beach in San Luis Obispo County.

Many suffered reverses city councils too. Lakhvir S Ghag lost his bid for the Live Oak City Council in Sutter County; Kash Gill for the City Council of Yuba City in Sutter County; George James (NJ) for the Borough of Westwood Council; Gyan Kalwani for the Grove City Council in Sacramento County; Sheela Kini for the County of San Francisco; Deepka Lalwani for the City Council in Santa Clara County; Tej Maan for the City Council of Yuba City in Sutter County; Narinder K Mann for the Kerman City Council in Fresno County; Atul Mitra for the New Haven Unified School District in Alameda County; JR Shah  for the County of San Francisco; Shantu Shah  for the Board of Director of the Proposed Washington County Public; Rakesh Sharma for the Fremont City Council in Alameda County; and Paul Reuben Singh for the Live Oak City Council in Sutter County.

The Indian political innings in the US has just begun in earnest.

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