A group of Indian-Americans who held a demonstration against Congressman Ro Khanna over his association with anti-Mahatma Gandhi activists has dismissed the allegations that their protest had links to other political causes, saying attempts are being made to mislead about the nature of their protest.
The Indian-Americans held the protest on Thursday outside the townhall venue of Khanna in Cupertino, California, claiming that his endorsement of anti-Gandhi activists Amar Shergill and Pieter Frederich through his social media posts have angered many in the community.
The organiser of Khanna’s town hall on Friday claimed that the protests were organised by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) and the protestors had links to other political causes.
The HSS and the protestors strongly refuted this on Saturday and said “attempts are being made to mislead about the nature of the protests.”
“HSS does not involve into electoral politics and is non-partisan,” HSS National Spokesperson Mahesh Kalla told PTI. “All citizens including Hindu Americans as part of their civic duty can freely express their opinion in their individual capacity,” he said.
“It seems Congressman Khanna’s office or the organisers are resorting to completely false, misleading and wild allegations using anonymous sources to marginalise the voices of his own constituents rather than addressing the questions raised by the community members,” said Nikhil Kaale, representing the protestors.
In a statement, Kaale said Indian-Americans were only protesting on the issue of Khanna’s association with the anti-Gandhi activists.
“To try and cast aspersions on the protestors by trying to affiliate us to different organisations and disparate causes from the Ukraine issue to Joe Biden and Trump is plainly cynical. Why not simply address the issues that we are raising rather than try to obfuscate it with such diversionary tactics?” Kaale said.
An online petition signed by over 1,500 people has demanded Khanna distance himself from individuals and groups that oppose Gandhi and have been running anti-India campaign.
“It is ironic that Congressman Khanna who never tires of talking about Gandhi is today standing with the very individuals who are bent upon denigrating Gandhi and erasing his legacy,” Kaale, the author of the petition, had said during the protest.
Khanna has denied these allegations.
“Gandhi Ji believed in satyagraha, a belief that the truth will ultimately prevail,” Khanna had recently told PTI, responding to a question on the sentiments against him among a section of Indian-Americans.
“I am confident my record and work will speak for itself. I have worked very hard to strengthen the economic and defence relationship with the US and India and have established great credibility on foreign policy,” he said.
“I will continue to work to strengthen this relationship grounded on the ideals of the American founders and Mahatma Gandhi – ideals of inclusion and respect for every human being,” Khanna said.
Khanna was in news last month when a record number of 230 Indian-American organisations in the US urged the Democratic Congressman to withdraw from the Congressional Caucus on Pakistan, saying it was contrary to both American principles and India’s geo-strategic interests.
Khanna, 42, became the first Indian-American to have joined the Congressional Pakistan Caucus last month. He is also the member Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, which is the largest country-specific caucus in the House of Representatives.