New Delhi, Aug 20, 2023- From running targeted ads to participating in rallies with the Indian-Americans, in the run-up to the 2020 elections, then president Donald Trump made a concerted attempt to grab the community vote.
For the people involved in the then Republican presidential campaign, it was likely the first time a GOP candidate had launched a five-figure digital ad focusing on the Indians — one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the US, as per a Politico report.
In one of the ads posted on Facebook, he called Indian-Americans “titans of business” and “masters of the arts” who innovate technology like few others. “Your contributions have strengthened our culture and economy. I will always fight for YOU!” the ad read.
While all that couldn’t ensure a Trump 2.0, a 2020 YouGov poll found that the number of Trump-supporting Indian-Americans grew to 22 per cent, from the 16 per cent who supported him in 2016.
The Republican party, thus had some success with the Indian American voters, despite a majority of them supporting the Democrats.
This year, Shalabh ‘Shalli’ Kumar, a fierce Trump supporter, has been appointed the national chairman of a new Republican Hindu and Indian American coalition, according to a Republican National Committee announcement.
The two coalitions, apart from building and mobilising Hindu and Indian American communities across the US, will assist the indicted leader in his 2024 campaign.
Apart from Chicago-based industrialist Kumar, who was also the financial backer and chair of the 2016 Indian Americans for Trump Campaign, there is loyalist Kash Patel, who joined the Trump administration in 2019.
Patel’s staunch loyalty towards Trump scored ‘brownie points’ from former advisor Roger Stone who remarked that the former president named his dog “Kash” as “homage” to Patel.
Patel has been reportedly mentioned in right-wing media as a potential contender for attorney general or CIA director, according to ABC News. “If Trump’s back in, I’m back in,” Patel, a former federal prosecutor and senior intelligence official, had said in a December 2022 interview.
Other top Trump supporters include Danny Gaekwad, who has been raising funds for all Republican presidential candidates since George W Bush.
In 2020, Gaekwad launched a “Trump Hai to Safe Hai” (with Trump around, we’re safe) campaign to drum up support for the former US president. An ad titled, “Ek Bar Aur, Trump Sarkar” –‘Trump once more’ — featured Gaekwad saying: “Why Trump? Very easy. He is a friend of India. He has proved himself, he is a friend of India”.
When Trump was indicted this year, both Gaekwad and Kumar had slammed the Democrats and called the move unacceptable and stupid.
Khushboo Rawlley was an advisory board member of Indian Voices for Trump, which was launched in 2020. She has also been a board member of Indian American Republican Women.
The Dallas-based conservative Indian-American advocacy group US IMPACT, co-founded by Amit Warkad, encouraged tens of thousands of desis in the US to pick Trump in 2020.
According to Jay Kansara, former director of Government Relations at the Hindu American Foundation, Trump has “united minority communities” and had said in 2020 that Trump stood for equity in education and equal opportunity.
Dr Sampat Shivangi, the national president of the Indian-American Forum for Political Education — one of the oldest Indian-American associations — was elected a delegate to the Republican National Convention (RNC) for the fifth time in a row in 2020.
He is also the founding member of the Republican Indian Council and the Republican Indian National Council, and was invited to attend Trump’s first India trip as part of a six-person Indian-American delegation.
Sridhar Chityala, who is on the advisory board of Indian Voice for Trump Coalition, Rick Desai, and Prem Parameswaran are some of the other Trump loyalists. (Agency)