Nikki Haley’s Punjab relatives await her visit

November 8th, 2010 - 11:46 am ICT by IANS  

Bobby Jindal By Jaideep Sarin
Verka (Punjab), Nov 8 (IANS) The Randhawa household in Punjab is elated. Indian origin Nikki Haley’s relatives are planning to be part of her swearing-in as governor of South Carolina state in the US and want her to visit her family’s hometown and also offer prayers at the Golden Temple here.

Ever since news of Nikki’s election as governor, the family of Pritam Singh Randhawa of Verka, a village near Amritsar, has been flooded with congratulatory messages.

“We are very happy at her success. She has brought laurels to the family and Punjabis. We hope that she visits Amritsar soon,” Pritam Singh Randhawa, Nikki’s 89-year-old uncle (father’s elder brother), told IANS at his house in Verka.

The Randhawas say they will be truly happy when Nikki comes to Punjab and offers prayers at the Golden Temple, the holiest of Sikh shrines, to thank the almighty.

Born Nimrata (Nikki) Randhawa, Haley becomes the first woman chief executive of South Carolina state and the second Indian-American to become governor after Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Also a Republican, Jindal became governor three years ago.

Her parents migrated to the US in the 1960s. She came to Punjab only in 1975-76 when she was four years old.

“It was because of her tiny size that she was fondly called Nikki - meaning tiny (small),” one family member said.

Pritam’s brother and Nikki’s father, Ajit Singh, who worked as a teacher at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in Ludhiana in the 1950s, and mother Raj Randhawa, moved to the US in the 1960s.

Members of the Randhawa family are now planning to seek US visas to be part of Nikki Haley’s swearing-in Jan 1 next year.

The 38-year-old mother of two, who defeated Democrat Vincent Sheheen with a close 51 percent-47 percent vote in the most expensive election in state history last Tuesday, has already, like Jindal, been mentioned as a “long shot” presidential candidate for 2012.

Jindal’s family hailed from the Muslim-dominated Malerkotla town in Punjab and he still has several relatives there and in Ludhiana.

Since his election as Louisiana governor in 2007, Jindal has not visited Punjab even though his relatives here were initially quite excited that he would.

His relatives, uncles and cousins, run small businesses in Malerkotla and nearby areas. The Jindal family is Hindu though Bobby converted to Roman Catholicism many years ago.

Jindal, whose real name is Piyush Jindal, asked his parents to call him Bobby after the name of a character in the popular US television show, “The Brady Bunch”.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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