SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — An organization launched by a group of influential Hindu Americans, the majority of whom are of Indian descent, aspires to emerge as a political platform for Hindus across the country regardless of their ethnic origin. In America, currently there are two prominent Hindu organization the Hindu American Foundation, rooted in advocacy and providing support to the victims of hate crime and the Republican Hindu Coalition, credited with the election and conversion of Hindu Democrats to Republicans in the 2016 election.
Now a third group seeks to unify the Hindu American community through political outreach to Democrats and Republicans. The American Hindu Coalition will not be formally inaugurated until May, but the group has launched a website and started raising funds online. The group’s leadership is comprised of Republicans, but will stress a bipartisan platform that will bring together Democrats, independents and anyone who believes in “Hindu enlightenment principles,” Shekhar Tewari, chairman of the organization, said.
“The primary aim of the AHC is to represent Hindus in America who are U.S citizens, not all of them from India. Hindu Americans are from all nationalities. Americans who have been here for five or ten generations also convert to Hinduism. We want to represent them as well,” Sue Ghosh, legal counsel for the AHC, told The Hindu.
Ghosh, an American-born Hindu, was an early and ardent supporter of President Donald Trump. She was charged by the Trump campaign with selecting delegates representing Maryland at last year’s Republican National Convention. Tewari has been an active member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS which many claim is a right-wing political element in the complex landscape of Indian politics. Tewari is also known publicly as an early supporter of the Republican Party.
He thinks the notion of being classified as “Indian American” does not bode well with the American populous.
“For the Hindus to be part of the mainstream of American politics, they have to give up this notion of being ‘Indian’ Americans. That signals mixed loyalties. Religion is constitutionally protected in America and that can be the legitimate the basis of organization,” he said.
The AHC says the organization is not to be confused with the Republican Hindu Coalition, which carries more of a party message.
“The RHC is limited to the Republican Party. We will reach out to Democrats and independents, whoever is willing to support our platform,” said John Jaggers, Strategic Advisor of the AHC.
The organization plans to open an office in the nation’s capital and appoint full-time staff to organize events with U.S. lawmakers, executive officials and regulators. “Limited governance and strong national defense are our priority. We believe in economic nationalism and we wish to invest in America and make America strong. On the other side we support strong national defense based on the principle of peace through strength,” Ghosh said. “And Hindu values are family values, that we support.”
The AHC will advocate strong strategic relations between the U.S and India, Ghosh said.
“There is a convergence between the two countries, both in terms of threats and interests,” she said.