Sonal Shah denies ‘baseless and silly’ reports of rightwing links

November 11th, 2008 - 9:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 11 (IANS) Eminent economist Sonal Shah, the only Indian-American member of president-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, has dismissed “baseless and silly” reports of her alleged links with some Indian rightwing organisations saying she has always condemned any politics of division.”As an Indian-American who has lived in this country since the age of four, serving on the Obama-Biden transition team is a unique privilege for me,” said 40-year-old Shah, who is part of an advisory board comprising individuals with significant private and public sector experience that is helping Obama assemble his White House team.

“A presidential transition is always a time of excitement and, in some cases, of rumours and unfounded gossip. I’d like to set to rest a few baseless and silly reports that have been circulating on the Internet,” she said in a statement.

“First, my personal politics have nothing in common with the views espoused by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), or any such organization. I’ve never been involved in Indian politics, and never intend to do so,” Shah said.

“Second, I’ve always condemned any politics of division, of ethnic or religious hatred, of violence and intimidation as a political tool,” she added.

“Some factually inaccurate Internet rumours have attempted to link me to Hindu nationalist groups through a variety of tenuous connections: Relief work I’m proud to have helped coordinate following the Gujarat earthquake of 2001,” Shah said.

Even “cultural and religious affiliations of some of my family members, or apolitical humanitarian work I’ve been privileged to do as a founder of the NGO Indicorps and as the director of Global Development for” had been cited for this, she noted.

“Finally, I do not subscribe to the views of such Hindu nationalist groups, and never have,” Shah said adding: “Ridiculous tactics of guilt by association have been decisively repudiated by the American people.

“I am delighted with what the victory on Nov 4 says about my country, and about our place in the world. I look forward to serving our president-elect in this time of transition,” she said.

Shah currently works for on their Global Development team, where she is engaged in defining their global development strategy and promoting the firm’s philanthropy work.

Before joining Google, she was vice president at Goldman, Sachs and Co. and developed and implemented its environmental strategy.

Her father Ramesh Shah has been a vice-president of the Overseas Friends of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) in the US and had actively campaigned for the party’s prime minister-in-waiting L.K. Advani during the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

Media reports both in the US and India after Shah was named to the transition team of the president-elect said that she and her family have been associated with the activities of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in the US and its other affiliated organizations. She was national coordinator for VHP-America to raise funds for the 2001 Gujarat earthquake victims.

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