Indians for Biden National Council launched in US

Indians for Biden National Council launched in US

The council would bring together Indian-Americans of all faiths and backgrounds for the Biden-Harris campaign

Representative Image. Credit : AFP Photo

Celebrating Kamala Harris' selection as the vice presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, Indian-Americans in the US have launched 'Indians for Biden National Council' to campaign for the Indian-origin candidate in the November 3 presidential elections.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden earlier in the week picked Senator Harris as his running mate, a decision speculated to have been influenced by the Black voters and the influential Indian diaspora. Harris, 55, is of Jamaican and Indian heritage.

The Indians for Biden National Council, under the South Asians for Biden umbrella organisation, was launched on Thursday. It will mobilise Indian-Americans of all faiths and backgrounds for the Biden-Harris campaign and to get other Democrats elected across the country, according to a press statement said.

The council will debut on 15th August marking the Independence Day event being hosted by the Biden campaign and the South Asians for Biden organisation.

The former vice president will address Indian-Americans on the occasion. Harris is also scheduled to make an appearance.

Neha Dewan, national director of South Asians for Biden, said it was critical for Indian-Americans and other South Asians to understand what is at stake in the election.

"South Asians for Biden is excited to launch the Indians for Biden National Council to promote a ticket that is reflective of America," Dewan said.

"Joe Biden's experience and know-how, along with Kamala Harris' unrelenting grit and passion for fighting for justice, is exactly what is needed for these unprecedented times. That Senator Kamala Harris is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, adds another dimension to this moment," she said.

South Asians for Biden has selected Sanjeev Joshipura as the director of Indians for Biden National Council.

"We are on the cusp of a historic moment with the election of a ticket that features a Black and Indian-American woman,” said Joshipura.

“It is up to us to educate and mobilise the community because the Indian-American community's future hinges on this election,” he said.

The council intends to seize on this historic moment by “working to educate community members about Biden's long history of supporting India and the Indian American community, as well as educating voters of Senator Harris' illustrious career in public service," Joshipura said.

Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) congratulated Harris on being the first woman of colour as a vice presidential pick on a major party's ticket.

The senator from California's Asian American and Black heritage makes her nomination a milestone for both Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and the African-American communities, it said.

"Senator Harris' achievement highlights the very mission of APAICS in promoting representation of AAPIs in all levels of government," said Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke, president and CEO of APAICS.

"As a national non-partisan, non-profit, we believe in community-wide participation of AAPIs in the electoral process as voters and as candidates. Senator Harris' historic achievement has already inspired and excited the AAPI community," she said.

South Asian Bar Association, North America, in a statement, congratulated Harris on her historic nomination. Harris had delivered the keynote address at SABA's annual conference in 2007 and 2013.

Meanwhile, Sampat Shivangi, national president of Indian American Forum for Political Education, said Harris is a great choice for the Democratic Party under the circumstances.

He said the Democrats needed an African-American or minority group member, or at least a woman candidate for the vice president nomination.

Shinvangi said Harris ticks all the boxes and she also has tremendous fund raising capabilities and a strong administrative background.

"In reality she is not an Indian-American, neither she claims to be one. She claims to be African-American or black American as her father is Jamaican and that counts legally," said Shivangi, who has been elected as a delegate to the Republican National Convention for the fifth consecutive time. "She always said that she is black American or origin from the Caribbean as you have 15 to 18 percent vote bank in the USA, compared to 2.5 million Indians or nearly 1.1 per cent of the American vote. She has always said she is Baptist and African to, possibly, garner those votes," Shivangi said.

According to Shivangi, Harris as vice presidential nominee will split votes of the Indian Americans. "Some Indian Americans will have a tough decision to make as their loyalty may be towards a so-called candidate of Indian heritage or a candidate of pro-Indian stance such as President Donald Trump," he said.

"Definitely many Indians are wary about the fact that both Biden and Harris have questioned the legitimacy of India passing Article 370 and Citizenship (Amendment) Bill protests. Both do not have affinity towards India unlike President Trump. Indians are right in saying that Biden is not tougher on China as well,” Shivangi said.

He said former US President Barack Obama had great influence in Biden's selection for vice president candidate.

"(Former) President (Barack) Obama is closely associated with Kamala Harris as she fits his criteria," Shivangi said, referring to Obama's father being of African descent and mother a white American.