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Indian American supporters root for Bus

Republican legislators praised Indian Americans and lauded the strengthening of US-India relations as scores of Indian Americans gathered at New York's Shaan restaurant to celebrate their Republican Party affiliation and seek President George W. Bush's re-election.
PTI | By Indo-Asian News Service, New York
PUBLISHED ON AUG 31, 2004 02:31 PM IST

Republican legislators praised Indian Americans and lauded the strengthening of US-India relations as scores of Indian Americans gathered at New York's Shaan restaurant to celebrate their Republican Party affiliation and seek President George W. Bush's re-election.

As the streets of New York City filled with more than 250,000 protestors from hundreds of groups opposing the Iraq war and a Bush re-election, nearly 100 Indian American Republicans met to endorse the party's agenda and emphasise that the Grand Old Party (GOP) enshrined the values dear to Indians.

Congressman Joe Wilson, chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, as well as Senator George Allen, chair of the Republican National Committee and member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Congresswoman Katherine Harris from Florida, came to address the gathering that was hosted by the Indian American Republican Council, a Washington DC- based group.

"The country and people of India have been stalwarts in the war on terror," asserted Sen. Allen, adding, "We are celebrating representative democracy." India's new Ambassador Ronen Sen, who was also at the reception, told IANS he saw the relationship as one between the peoples of the two largest democracies. "Our relationship enjoys a consensus in both parties," Sen said.

"What I'm happy about is the increased role of Indian Americans in the political process. I am a catalyst in the people-to-people relations. My objective will be to take this relationship forward - one that is moving toward a strategic relationship."

Congressman Joe Wilson pointed out that the India caucus was the largest caucus on the Hill. "It is a reflection of the recognition of India itself and a recognition of the vision of the two democracies coming together." He pointed to several Indian Bush appointees as well as those running for elections such as Bobby Jindal of Louisiana who is seeking a seat in the US House of Representatives.

"The Republican Party offers much more to Indian Americans," Rep. Wilson said. "As you can see today, we are working to increase Indian American political participation. When (Senator) Kerry mentions 'outsourcing' he is slamming India. The Democratic Party believes they can scare people," he said touching an issue that many Indian Americans feel their home country is being needlessly bashed about.

Raghavendra Vijayanagar, an alternate delegate from Florida and founder and president of the IARC, said he was always interested in the Republican Party because it was the party of Abraham Lincoln.

"My philosophy is this - the politics here at the end of the day is you have to be a Republican or a Democrat .... There are a lot of Indian organizations ... but at the end of the day they won't get anywhere. You have to identify yourself. ... The Republican Party is a very welcoming party."

Sampat Shivangi, a delegate from Mississippi, co-founder and vice chair of the IARC, said he is the only person from his state delegation and the only Indian American delegate to be invited to an exclusive breakfast with President Bush later this week.

There are 2,509 delegates and 2,344 alternate delegates attending the Convention where more than 50,000 people have converged to make it among the most diverse Republican Conventions in the history of the party.

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