Indian-Americans may increase their headcount in US Congress

With the prospect of a woman being elected for the first time as the president of the country getting brighter, Indian-American women are sailing ahead to create history by entering both the Senate and the US House of Representatives.

By: PTI | Washington | Updated: October 4, 2016 12:16 pm

Indian-Americans are all set to increase their headcount in the US Congress as more candidates from the community, including women, are expected win in the November elections. With the prospect of a woman being elected for the first time as the president of the country getting brighter, Indian-American women are sailing ahead to create history by entering both the Senate and the US House of Representatives. If local reports and political pundits are to be believed, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, 51, a close confidant of US President Barack Obama, is all set to be
elected to the US Senate; thus making her the first Indian-American that too a woman to enter the upper house of the US Congress.

Similarly, Pramila Jayapal, 51, is cruising towards victory for the US House of Representatives Seat from the Washington State. She would be the first Indian-American woman to be elected to the House, which so far had three members from this minority ethnic community. While Dalip Singh Saund was the first Indian-American to be elected to the House of Representatives in 1950s, it was only in the 21st century that the community could see another member elected to the Congress. Bobby Jindal from Louisiana was elected twice before he went on be become two-term Governor of Louisiana.

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Ami Bera, the only Indian-American in the current Congress is seeking his third consecutive term from California’s hotly contested set. Embroiled in a controversy with regard to his father’s fund raisings, Bera, 51, like his previous two contests, is engaged in a tight fight this time too, which is again
expected to run into re-count of ballots. His fellow Democrat Ro Khanna, 40, is hoping to be lucky this time and repeat his primary performance to defeat his party’s incumbent Congressman Mike Honda. Khanna, who has raised a record amount of money, had gained more votes than Honda in the primary elections this Summer. He received 52,059 votes against Honda’s 49,823 votes.

In the 2014 general elections, Khanna lost to Honda with a little over 5,000 votes. This time he hopes to enter the US House of Representatives, but political pundits are yet to bet on a sure shot win for him against a formidable and seasoned Honda. If all goes well, California itself might see one
Indian-American representation in the Senate and two in the House.

Raja Krishnamoorthi, 43, from Illinois is one of the few candidates who has earned the endorsement of Obama. As per political pundits, he may head to the House of Representatives. This is also because he is running from a seat that is considered to be a Democratic stronghold. Krishnamoorthi is a businessman, who currently serves as the president of Sivananthan Labs, a company based in the Chicago area. In New Jersey, young Peter Jacob, 30, is seeking to enter the US House of Representatives.

He is one of the candidates who have been endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders. His chances are expected to be slim as his Congressional District is considered to be a Republican bastion. However, with Sanders’s endorsement Jacob believes that he is ready to create history this time, by becoming the first Indian American to enter the House from New Jersey. Businessman Abhay Patel, 40, is seeking to enter the US Senate from Louisiana.
Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur and philanthropist M R Rangaswami, who was the brain behind the first ever Indian American presidential ball in 2013 and is planning for the another one on January 18 next year, hoped that the 2016 general elections would result in Indian American increasing
their representation in the US Congress.

Indian-Americans are said to be more than three million in population. Though spread over across the nation, they are mainly concentrated in California, the tristate area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Chicago, the two major metropolis of Houston and Dallas in Texas, Minneapolis, and pockets of Florida, and Atlanta.

In the last one decade, Indian-Americans have increased their significant presence in and around Washington DC. In the last one decade, Indian-Americans have increasingly been running for office. Two of them – Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley – both from the Republican party have been elected as Governors of Louisiana and South Carolina respectively. In the last five election cycles, on an average 10 Indian Americans had run for Congress, but expect for Bera none were elected. This is for the first time that more than one Indian Americans are expected to enter the Congress and
open an account in both of its chambers – House and Senate.