Indian Americans hail Clinton-Obama unity, wish for joint ticket

June 8th, 2008 - 3:26 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Narendra Modi
By Parveen Chopra
New York, June 8 (IANS) The Indian American community, welcoming the Democratic party unity reached by a Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton handshake and her endorsement of his presidential candidacy, feels this will be cemented if they run on a joint ticket. Kevin Kishore Kaul, the Kashmir-born chairman of Friends of the South Asian American Communities, who has been a strong supporter and fundraiser for Clinton, said he would run a campaign to ensure that Indian Americans and other South Asians vote for Obama in the November elections.

“As president, he will be good for India because he has had international exposure,” Kaul told IANS.

The Los Angeles businessman’s only wish now is that Obama name Clinton as his running mate.

“I am meeting Obama later this month and will tell him so. I have also decided to raise $2 million for the joint ticket,” Kaul added.

When it was pointed out that Obama has been noncommittal on the issue, Kaul said: “He has to comply with the wishes of 64 percent of Americans who want her on the ticket with him.”

The joint ticket has become a hot button issue with Clinton supporters.

Rajender Singh Uppal, a New York physician who has been part of businessman Sant Chatwal’s fundraiser for Clinton, went to the extent of saying: “If Obama gives her the nod, his chances of winning will be 70 percent. If he doesn’t, the race for the White House could go either way.”

The joint ticket will also forestall 25-30 percent of Clinton’s supporters from deserting the Democratic party and voting for Republican candidate John McCain, Uppal wagered.

Chatwal is among those who have expressed disappointment at Clinton losing the party’s nomination after a hard fought race. Uppal said just days before she admitted defeat, hotelier Chatwal still believed that she would somehow emerge victorious.

Unlike Chatwal, shifting allegiance for some other strong Clinton supporters has been less painful.

Kamil Hasan from California, one of the two known Indian American super delegates for the Democratic party, endorsed Obama Tuesday.

Yash Pal Soi, president of the Federation of Indian Associations, said a unified party under Obama and Clinton would be good for the country and for immigrants - and for the Indian American community.

Soi, an environmental engineer, supports the Democratic party because “it is generally pro-India, pro-immigration and pro-common man.”

Reflecting the dilemma of many Indian Americans caught between Obama and Clinton, New Jersey Democrat Aditya Ahluwalia said he did not vote in the primaries because he couldn’t choose between the two frontrunners and did not want to be partial to either. But now, he will have no hesitation in voting for Obama.

The generalisation that Indian American community supports the Democratic party is wrong, Ahluwalia maintained.

“The rich, particularly the doctors who are wealthy, are Republicans because their party stands for tax cuts. Doctors are the ones to get hit by the universal healthcare proposed by the Democrats,” he pointed out.

Ahluwalia, who runs a business from the US and India, also believes that a Democrat president will not be good for India because the party is against outsourcing to keep jobs within the country, while the Republicans are all for free trade.

“But rest assured that both parties will woo the influential Indian American community in the presidential election,” he contended.

Shaik Ubaid, a Long Island doctor, said there was a generational divide in the Indian American community, with the younger people being all for Obama.

“In his success, they see hope for their own political future,” he maintained.

“Our children stand for social justice, immigration rights and are in that way much more American than us,” Ubaid added.

India, he said, should have no worries on who becomes the US president because the country is now crucial for America.

Ubaid, a founder director of Coalition Against Genocide that has been running a campaign against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, pointed out that Obama would not have risen without the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King’s campaign against social injustice.

“King, in turn, was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi,” he pointed out.

Underlining that Obama’s emergence as a presidential candidate has been hailed by the world, Ubaid said: “India too will get a better name if the country and the Indian diaspora stand by the disadvantaged and the minorities.”

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