With Democrat US Senator Kamala Harris becoming the first woman of African and Indian descent to become a contender for the chair of Vice President of the United States, the so-called ‘Samosa Caucus’ in the US seems to be getting stronger than ever before.
With over 1.4 million Indian-American voters and a growing number of Indian-Americans either vying for Senate positions or applying for re-election, observers note that the growing influence of high-powered Desi brigade in Washington may impact the Presidential elections as well.
What is the Samosa Caucus?
The ‘Samosa Caucus’ is the informal grouping of Indian-American lawmakers who are part of the House of Representatives or the Senate. At present, Representatives Ami Bera, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ro Khanna and Pramila Jayapal are part of the House while Harris is part of the Senate. The four prominent reps are for re-election and believe if more like Kulkarni win the Samosa Caucus will grow.
Is the Samosa Caucus likely to grow?
Despite its considerable size and importance in terms of fundraisers, the Indian community has been largely underrepresented in US politics. But that may change with Kamala Harris. According to Indian American author Suketu Mehta, Harris is inspiring a lot of young Americans of South Asian descent to take the political plunge and quotes the example of his own young niece who was inspired by the Senator to take up politics in the future. Many also believe that political participation will help give a much needed voice to the community and dispel myths about immigrants at a time when anti-immigrant narratives are in vogue.
Can Indian-Americans influence US elections?
The 2020 elections are being keenly followed by India as it is also the elections that will see the largest ever number of Indian-Americans on ballot. About 70 Indian-Americans are running up and down the ballots across several states, hoping for a blue-flip for the Democrats. These include Democrat Sara Gideon. The Republicans have also fronted Indian candidates such as Republican Rik Mehta who will be going up against Sen. Cory Booker in New Jersey. With a larger number of Indians in the race for various congressional, state and local legislative and executive offices, as well as top offices like the VP, Indian-American voters - known for their tendency to not vote, may get inspired to vote for more Indian candidates. Though the Indian-American voter base makes up less than 1 percent of American votes, they form the second-largest immigrant voter group in the US.
Who will Indian-Americans vote for?
While the Indian-American voter base has traditionally been a Democratic bastion, support for Republicans and the Donald Trump administration has grown since the latter was elected to office in 2016. Analysts claim that his improving ties with India under PM Narendra Modi and events such as ‘Howdy Modi’ in Texas or Trump’s visit to India have strengthened the Indian diaspora’s belief in the party. Be that as it may, a survey by 2020 Indian American Attitude Survey (IAAS) found that over 70 per cent of registered Indian American voters plan to vote for Joe Biden in next month’s US presidential election. It also said that only 22 per cent of the rest will vote for Donald Trump. The report also stressed the improving relations with India may not be enough to influencing Indian-Americans’ voters to vote for him.