Sant Chatwal (2nd from r), chairman of Indian American Democrats & Friends of Hillary at a press conference to appeal for collective voting for Hillary Clinton in the upcoming elections, in Manhattan, Nov. 2. Bhupi Patel, former chief of medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, Queens, and Mike Patel, hotelier and former commissioner in President Clinton’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and host Rashi Nigam (r), are also seen. (Press Trust of India)
Hillary Clinton is the “best” presidential candidate to boost Indo-U.S. ties as she understands India and its culture well, Indian American hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal has said while questioning her rival Donald Trump’s ability “to run a country.” Indian Americans are very concerned about the rhetoric from Donald Trump who has poisoned the political dialog with his insults to immigrants and women, U.S. House of Representatives contender Raja Krishnamoorthi has said, writes Yoshita Singh. – @siliconeer #siliconeer #2016USPresidentialPolls #Trump #Hillary #HillaryClinton #DonaldTrump #TheDonald #SantChatwal #BhupiPatel #MikePatel #RashiNigam
Chatwal, who has been a long time friend of the Clintons, said the former secretary of state has stood with India and the Indian American community on vital issues like immigration and supported the India-U.S. nuclear deal.
“Clinton understands India, the Indian culture. Indian Americans should vote for the candidate who will grow India-U.S. relations. A Clinton presidency will be great for the growth of the relationship between the two nations,” Chatwal told PTI in an interview.
The chairman of the groups Indian Americans for Democrats and Friends of Hillary for President said Republican candidate Trump does not know India and “does not have the experience to run a country and deal with the world.”
Chatwal, who has been a financial supporter for Clinton in her previous campaigns for the Senate, said though Trump has been a “very successful businessman,” he however has filed for bankruptcy thrice and even avoided paying taxes by reporting nearly a billion dollars in losses.
He said a Trump presidency will be catastrophic for the markets and wipe out trillions of dollars from U.S. economy.
“If Trump becomes President, the market will drop by 25%, four-five trillion dollars will be lost. I’m very much worried about that,” he said.
“Trump does not know much about India. Talk is very cheap but you have got to deliver and Clinton can deliver,” he said citing her efforts during India-U.S. nuclear deal negotiations.
“The next U.S. president should be great for India and for Indian Americans,” Chatwal said adding that Clinton has an impressive track record and 30 years experience of working in public life, from being the first lady, a senator to the secretary of state.
“For India and the Indian American community, Clinton is the best candidate to be U.S. president. She has much more knowledge and experience. Running a country is not easy and we need somebody as president who has experience, will focus on economic growth and move the nation forward for a better future of our children.
“The Indian American community has to make a choice and see who is the best person for taking forward the India-U.S. relationship and who will be best for the economy. Running a country is very very difficult and you need experience. You do not want someone to make ad hoc decisions, push the nuclear button,” he said.
A pictorial collage titled ‘Hillary-Chatwal since 1991’ was displayed at Chatwal’s luxurious hotel in Manhattan. It has photos of Clinton and Chatwal and their families together at various social and political gatherings over the years.
Chatwal cited the Clintons’ close ties with India, including the trips they made to the country starting from when Bill Clinton was president.
“The Clintons opened the doors for improving India-U.S. relations,” he said.
Indian Americans have traditionally supported the Democratic Party and Trump too has been wooing the strong community to make a dent in this vote bank. In a campaign ad, Trump borrowed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s winning slogan of the 2014 general polls and said “Ab ki Baar Trump Sarkar.”
Chicago-based Indian American industrialist Shalabh Kumar, founder of the Republican Hindu Coalition, organized a rally in New Jersey last month in support of Trump, who had said at the event that he is a “big fan of Hindus” and of India.
Taking a dig at Trump’s remarks to Hindus at the rally, Chatwal said it is easy to talk in such a manner but “India is not only for Hindus, India has Sikhs, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists.
“Trump has to understand that. India has a large Muslim population, Trump does not know that. Talk is cheap but it is difficult to deliver,” Chatwal said.
Urging the Indian American community to exercise their electoral right, he said each vote will count on November 8.
Chatwal also slammed Trump for his views on immigration, saying his policies will rip families apart and separate children from their parents.
He also cited a meeting between the Clintons and Modi when the prime minister visited the U.S. in 2014, saying they will take the bilateral ties to greater heights.
He added that the two nations can work together in areas of technology, infrastructure and defense.
Chatwal said prominent Indian Americans such as wellness guru Deepak Chopra has voiced his support for Clinton. He said industrialist Sunil Mittal too has written to him voicing his endorsement for Clinton.
Later in the day, Chatwal was joined by former chief of medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital and community leader, Bhupi Patel, and prominent hotelier and former commissioner in President Clinton’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Mike Patel, for a press conference, declaring support for Clinton.
Patel said immigration, healthcare and education were the most critical issues for the Indian American community and Clinton has strong policies in these areas that will benefit the community and its children.
Patel said the community has to decide who will be an “inclusive” leader for its children and who will “judge us by the color of our skin.”
He said Trump talks about isolating the U.S. and insults women and handicapped people. “How can you have a leader who damages global relations. America cannot afford to get isolated, you cannot discriminate against minorities.”
Patel said Clinton is an “inclusive” leader who has “not come to us just in the last six months” but has worked for the community for the last few decades.
Urging the community to go out and vote, he said “we have to have a seat at the table and have our issues heard and addressed. It is very important for the minority community to be involved in the political process. We have to make our presence felt.”
“We need somebody who understands India, Indian culture.
Why go looking for someone you don’t know. We know what Obama and the Democratic Party have done for India and we should stay with that,” he said.
Indian Americans very concerned about Trump’s Rhetoric
Raja Krishnamoorthi, 42, is contesting for the 8th Congressional District of Illinois that includes west and northwest Chicago suburbs. He won the Democratic Party’s Congressional primary in Illinois in March and has also been endorsed by President Barack Obama.
Krishnamoorthi’s district has a sizable Indian American population and Krishnamoorthi said the community, in its interaction with him, say, “they are very concerned about the rhetoric coming from people like Donald Trump who has basically poisoned the political dialog in this country with his insults to immigrants, people with disabilities, women, other minorities and veterans.
“People more than ever are yearning for unity in the face of the collective challenges confronting the country. Indian Americans feel that call to action and call to unity even more keenly,” Krishnamoorthi told PTI.
“Trump says these things in a very cynical way. I personally think that he knows better but he is trying to deliberately appeal to the worst instincts in Americans,” he said.
Krishnamoorthi emphasized that the only way for people to combat such rhetoric is to become more politically engaged and to vote and express their preferences for the way they believe America should be run through the political process.
“Now more than ever people have to vote and ensure that November 8 is the day when America decides to go in the direction of unity and collective teamwork in facing the common challenges confronting the country,” he said.
Krishnamoorthi expressed strong appreciation for the India-U.S. relationship, which he said has steadily become stronger and deeper. He underscored that a strong relationship between the two democracies is crucial as the world confronts a plethora of challenges.
“I hope to be a positive force in developing the relationship between the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy.”
In an endorsement in June, Obama had said as the son of immigrants who worked their way into the middle-class, Krishnamoorthi understands both the challenges facing America’s working families and the opportunities their work makes possible.
“I know he’ll fight hard in Congress to create more good jobs, empower more Americans to start businesses, and help working families afford to put their children through college,” Obama had said.
Krishnamoorthi said, “It is so important in the face of the various challenges that the world confronts today, whether it’s climate change or terrorism or making sure economic gains are broadly shared by working families throughout the world, that America and India form a strong partnership based on democratic principles, respect for human rights and also based on free markets.”
A son of immigrants, Krishnamoorthi grew up in Illinois and after college and law school, he became policy advisor for Obama’s successful U.S. Senate campaign. He also served as a founding prosecutor in Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s anti-corruption unit.
Krishnamoorthi has also received crucial endorsements from influential news outlets such as The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Herald and key bodies like Illinois Realtors, Illinois Credit Union League, Human Rights Campaign and International Association of Fire Fighters.
“We are talking about ideas, we are not talking about insults. We are running a grassroots, ideas-based campaign in the best tradition of American government and politics,” he said.
Krishnamoorthi, who had fought the elections to enter the U.S. House of Representative in 2012, said the biggest concern facing constituents in his district is how to grow and strengthen the country’s middle class.
“People ask me how do they send their child to college, will social security and Medicare be there for them when they are retired. People are very concerned about gridlock within Washington, D.C. and they want to see people who go there to get things done and who are willing to work with the other side to achieve results,” he said.
He expressed hope that on November 8, his campaign will be able to “make history and go to the Congress.”
“One of the reasons why I have had some success in this campaign so far is that I have talked to people and given them details behind the plan and proposals that I have to tackle the challenges” facing the country, Krishnamoorthi said.
He said instead of “generality” or engaging in rhetoric, he can speak in detail about his plans and is in a better position to engage the other side in terms of figuring out the common ground.
He urged American voters to go out and exercise their electoral right, saying “elections are almost a celebration of democracy.”
“As the old adage goes, if you do not have a seat at the table you are on the menu. It is important for people everywhere to have a seat at the table and have their voices heard,” Krishnamoorthi said.
He encouraged people to take their children to the polls “to develop a new generation of voters.”