Ro Khanna giving his victory speech after winning Congressional election, in Silicon Valley, Nov. 9. He defeated incumbent Mike Honda. (Press Trust of India)
With four Indian-Americans, including two women, elected to the U.S. Congress, euphoric community members said that the unprecedented victory shows they have become part of the mainstream political landscape, writes Lalit K. Jha. – @siliconeer #siliconeer #2016USPolls #RoKhanna #AmiBera #KamalaHarris #RajaKrishnamoorthi #PramilaJayapal
Kamala Harris, who was elected to the Senate, and Pramila Jayapal, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ro Khanna to the House of Representatives – entered one of the citadels of democracy for the first time, leading to celebrations among community members.
That number is expected to increase to five if Democratic Congressman Ami Bera is declared elected for a third consecutive term after a recounting of votes. In 2012, and in 2014, Bera’s race was too close to call on the election night.
On both occasions, Bera emerged winner.
“It is a no mean achievement. This is a moment of celebration,” said M.R. Rangaswami, a Silicon Valley-based investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
He had held fund-raising events for almost all of them.
“It is important that Indian Americans become part of the political mainstream,” he said.
Rangaswami hoped the “historic election” would encourage others from the community to run for not only Congressional elections, but also those at state and city levels.
“We are growing up and growing out,” said Sekhar Narasimhan, an activist in the Greater Washington area.
He has been encouraging young Indian Americans to run for elected offices.
Ajay Jain Bhutoria from California, who too had raised funds for these candidates, said: “This is matter of pride for Indian-American community.”
Another Indian American, San Jose Councilmember Democrat Ash Kalra surged ahead of Madison Nguyen in a close race for California’s 27th Assembly District. Nguyen conceded Nov. 11, according to a report in Los Angeles Times.
Indian Americans, one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the U.S., this year pooled resources from across the country through fund-raising events and by volunteering time and effort.
For instance, the Indian American community in Tampa, Fla., one of the battleground states – held fund-raising events for Raja Krishnamoorthi, while those in the greater Washington area raised money for Ro Khanna, Raja and Pramila Jayapal and several others running for Congress.
After a bitter experience in the past, in particular with Bobby Jindal, the community now is seeking accountability and commitment from these candidates.
When around two dozen Indian Americans from the Silicon Valley held a fundraiser for Kamala Harris about six months ago, they sought her position on issues related to India and Indian Americans.
“We are thrilled to see a record-breaking number of Indian Americans got elected for the first time in the U.S. political history,” said Prasad Thotakura, president of Indian American Friendship Council.