America’s Indian community is not so sure about Bobby Jindal. ARUN KUMAR reports
Louisiana’s Indian-American Governor Bobby Jindal has found himself in the eye of a twitter storm ever since he kicked off his US presidential campaign distancing himself from his Indian heritage.
Jindal’s reiteration that he is not a hyphenated “Indian-American,” but just an American, spawned a series of jokes here and in India under the hashtag #BobbyJindalIsSoWhite.
Leading the charge were Indian-American comics Hari Kondabolu and Aasif Mandvi.
Among the Kondabolu gems were:
#bobbyjindalissowhite that he mispronounces his own name
#bobbyjindalissowhite he can’t spell
#bobbyjindalissowhite he refers to Indian food as “ethnic cuisine.”
#bobbyjindalissowhite he beat himself up after 9/11
U might be a #Jindian if u r the son of immigrants who is anti-immigrant.
Bobby Jindal went to Brown University, but it made him EXTREMELY UNCOMFORTABLE.
Referring to high scholastic achievement of Indian-American kids, Mandvi tweeted: The only thing #Indian about #BobbyJindal is the 4.0 he got in High School.
But Priyanka Mantha had the last word: #BobbyJindal makes history as the first former Indian American to run for President
“On issue after issue, Bobby Jindal has shown that his opinions are very different from Asian American public opinion,” University of California Riverside Public Policy Professor Karthick Ramakrishnan told NBC News explaining the Indian-Americans’ reactions.
Do Jindal’s comments that “I’m tired of the hyphenated Americans No more ‘African-Americans.’ No more ‘Indian-Americans.’ No more ‘Asian-Americans'” “make him hyphenist?” wondered Lev Raphael of the Huffington Post.
“Is there anything this guy won’t say to get elected?” he asked adding, “Stay tuned. He’s got lots of competition in an already-crowded field of blowhards and extremists.”
But an opinion writer in the New York Post came to Jindal’s defence saying: “The reason Jindal has come in for such treatment is because he’s an eloquent advocate for integration and the promise of America.”
Piyush “Bobby” Jindal on June 24 made his much-anticipated entry into the 2016 White House race via Twitter making him the first Indian-American and 13th Republican candidate to do so.
“My name is Bobby Jindal, and I am running for President of the United States of America,” he tweeted ahead of a planned formal announcement in the New Orleans suburb of Kenner.
A hidden-camera style video of the governor telling his kids about his decision to run followed. His daughter quickly leveraged the information, requesting a puppy as her share of the deal.
“OK, if we move into the White House, you can have a puppy,” Jindal told his daughter.
Jindal joins an already crowded field of Republican candidates including Jeb Bush, Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee, former governors of Florida, Texas and Arkansas respectively, US Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina; and real estate mogul Donald Trump.
Once viewed as a rising star of the Republican Party, Jindal, 44, who was the youngest American governor when first elected in 2007, is now polling toward the bottom of the Republican field, registering at just 1 percent in the latest CNN/ORC poll this month.
Analysts suggested that he faces an uphill task in his campaign and even faces the prospect of being eliminated from Fox News’s presidential debates starting August 6 as the channel has decided to limit it to the top 10.
Jindal, who received wide support from Indian-Americans in his Congressional and gubernatorial campaigns, seems to have lost much traction with the community since he recently declared that he was tired of hyphenated Americans.
About his parents, he declared, “They weren’t coming to raise ‘Indian-Americans.’ They were coming to raise Americans.”
As Pearson Cross, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who is writing a book on him told the Washington Post: “There’s not much Indian left in Bobby Jindal.”
The Louisiana-born son of immigrant parents from India, Jindal converted from Hinduism to Christianity as a teen, and was later baptised a Catholic as a student at Brown University.
The Rhodes scholar was the second Indian-American to be elected to the US House of Representatives in 2004 after Dalip Singh Saund, a Democrat, in 1957.
He was re-elected to the Congress in 2006 before making his second run for governor in 2007. He was re-elected in 2011.
Stung by media criticism that he is distancing himself from his Indian heritage, Bobby Jindal’s presidential campaign is hitting hard on his ‘hyphenated Americans’ theme with T-shirts touting him as “tanned, rested, ready”.
The $20 official T-shirt which is supposed to be a nod to Jindal’s Indian heritage and his dislike of “hyphenated American” modifiers as well as a play on a famous Richard Nixon line, is apparently his way of getting back at the “liberal media.”
Way back in 1988, a T-shirt sold at the Young Republican convention in Seattle depicted “a smiling Richard M. Nixon” with the slogan “He’s tan, rested and ready,” according to the New York Times.
“The liberal media said, ‘There’s not much Indian left in Bobby Jindal,’ so we made shirts to mock them,” Jindal tweeted on 30 June.
“I’m done with all this talk about hyphenated Americans. We are not Indian-Americans, Irish-Americans, African-Americans, rich Americans, or poor Americans – we are all Americans,” Jindal says in his “We are All Americans” ad.