Indian Americans are known to be more leaning towards the Democratic Party than the Republican Party. Recently, a number of conservative-minded Indian-Americans have formed a group to mobilize their powerful community for supporting Republican candidates in their White House run, saying this is a “very important time in history.” The Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC) has been modelled after groups like the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will serve as the chairman of the newly-formed Republican Hindu Coalition, which officially launched November 17 in Washington, DC.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky; along with Reps. Ed Royce, chairman of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee; and Pete Sessions, chairman of the House Rules Committee, attended the launch, which began with the traditional Hindu ceremony of lighting of lamps. Also in attendance were Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire; and Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin.
The RHC’s founder, Chicago-based businessman Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar, has promised to personally donate at least $2 million to Republicans running for office in 2016, and the coalition aims to give at least $10 million to GOP candidates this cycle. Kumar has been a generous donor to Republicans, sending $50,000 to Mitt Romney’s joint fundraising account in 2012 and more than $100,000 to the Republican Party and its candidates over the past five years.
“An organization like the RHC could dramatically change history,” Gingrich told the audience at the launch. The former House Speaker also spoke about the “dangers of Pakistan” and “radical jihadists” which he said were a common enemy for India and the U.S., adding he had grave concerns about the dangers of Pakistan. Kumar designed the RHC to mobilize Indian-Americans into an influential conservative force and to tighten business and strategic ties between India and the U.S.
“Shalli, thank you so much for what you’re doing,” McConnell told the businessman, saying how glad he was that India was moving away from socialism and toward free market principles. Turning to the audience, which included influential Indian-American businessmen, McConnell said of the GOP: “Believe me, it’s your natural home and we welcome you.”
Kumar, a Chicago-based industrialist, initiated the group to promote conservative principles like free markets and limited government with a focus on Indian- Americans. “This is a very important time in history. Kumar, chairman of AVG Advanced Technologies, is hoping to organise a congressional delegation in India after they formally launch the coalition next month.
He said while many Hindus are ideologically conservative-leaning, they have not yet mobilised to vote for Republicans. The US and India can draw closer on a number of issues, including getting the US to rely more on India for manufacturing than China, he said. The technology entrepreneur got the idea for the RHC when he saw how successful and influential the Republican Jewish Coalition has been with lawmakers in Washington and across America. “Having watched the Republican Jewish Coalition work to achieve its goals … I was inspired to found RHC,” Kumar said.
The country has suffered so much so dramatically in the last eight years and another four or eight years of the same direction, the US as we know it will come to an end,” Kumar was quoted as saying. “We are actually giving away our economic future to China, the world is a lot less secure today than it was seven years ago, and conservatives and Republicans have to win and take the White House. This is the time when Hindu-Americans should very actively get involved,” Kumar said.
Born in Punjab, Kumar migrated to the US in 1969. He was a supporter of the Democrat party until he met President Ronald Reagan in 1979, becoming a staunch Republican. A new Indian-American lobby on Tuesday convened a powerful group of Republicans — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — in a Washington hotel as it pledged to raise millions in campaign cash for GOP candidates this cycle.
“Hindu Americans tend to be like other minorities when it comes to voting — they are Democrats or are neutral, or they just don’t vote,” said Kumar, chairman of AVG Advanced Technologies. Kumar said they have received a great deal of support from the Republican National Committee and high-ranking congressional Republicans. They are also hoping to organize a congressional delegation to travel to India after they formally launch the coalition next month.
Additionally, the RHC is hoping that in light of the 2014 election of the business-minded Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the U.S. and India can draw closer on a number of issues, including getting the U.S. to rely more on India for manufacturing than China. “We are actually giving away our economic future to China, the world is a lot less secure today than it was seven years ago, and conservatives and Republicans have to win and take the White House. This is the time when Hindu Americans should very actively get involved,” Kumar added in a media report.
Some issues Kumar feels will be resolved with a better U.S.-India relationship include fiscal discipline; the free enterprise system; limited government; a strong national defense; and a strong posture against terrorism globally.
Kumar, who was a Democrat until 1979, said it is imperative that a change is made in the White House. Hindu Americans are also prolific donors to political campaigns, but they contribute on an individual basis so efforts are scattered, said Kumar. “We currently have very little influence on policy-making. With the forming of the RHC, we will finally have a platform from which Hindu American voices can be heard,” he stated. The Coalition has not yet announced its support for any Republican presidential candidate, said Kumar.
The newly-launched coalition will first focus its attention on the Obama Administration’s recent decision to sell eight nuclear-capable F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, worth an estimated $600 million, Dr. Sampat Shivangi, co-founder of the Republican Hindu Coalition, is quoted to have said. Shivangi said the Coalition and its supporters are concerned about the proliferation of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and its impact on the safety of India and its citizens. Shivangi said he was initially hesitant about joining a “Hindu”-named coalition. “But Gingrich changed my mind,” he stated, noting that the Coalition is open to Republicans of all faiths who have an interest in the India-U.S. relationship.