Sonal Shah rejects ties to VHP America

December 11th, 2008 - 11:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Dec 11 (IANS) Sonal Shah, an Indian American member of US president-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, has renounced her former controversial connection to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), accused of fomenting violence against Muslims and Christians in India.In a statement published Wednesday by Nextgov and National Journal, the former Google executive said if she could have anticipated the role of the VHP in the 2002 outbreak of communal violence in Gujarat, she never would have associated with the group’s US branch a year earlier.

“Had I been able to foresee the role of the VHP in India in these heinous events, or anticipate that the VHP of America could possibly stand by silently in the face of its Indian counterpart’s complicity in the events of Gujarat in 2002 - thereby undermining the American group’s cultural and humanitarian efforts with which I was involved - I would not have associated with the VHP of America,” Shah stated.

The controversy over Shah’s VHP links escalated in early December when Shah asked supporters for their help in stopping the spread of allegations that she had been a member of VHP.

In an e-mail sent to her political supporters, Shah asked for help in combating the allegations and expressed fear that the Obama transition team would ask her to resign as a result of the story.

“I need your help,” wrote Shah. “This is gaining legs as the National Journal also picked it up and likely Fox. I need to mobilise people against the leftists and the right wing. There is a likely chance that they will ask me to resign as the team does not need my publicity.”

Shah, a Google executive who previously worked for Goldman Sachs and served as a Treasury Department official in the Clinton administration, was appointed to the Obama transition team in November and has since been tapped to be part of the three-person team to develop technology policy.

She also is reportedly being considered for Energy secretary. But her appointment to the administration has drawn strong reactions from the South Asian community.

Many prominent Indian-Americans have stood behind Shah, but others have raised doubts about her past.

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