Washington, Oct 23: Newly-appointed Louisiana Governor and Indian-American Bobby Jindal was congratulated by U.S. President George W Bush over his win in the gubernatorial hustings. Describing it as an "incredible honour", Bush told Jindal that it was an "excellent win" given that the race for the office was tougher than what the numbers showed. Jindal, a Republican, decisively defeated 11 candidates to become the youngest governor of the once racially segregated state.
Jindal contested on the platform that pledged clean politics. He is the first Indian-American to lead a state. On Sunday, Jindal's relatives celebrated by his victory in Malerkotla, the family's ancestral village. The celebrations were marked by a rhythmic beating of drums, dancing and distribution of sweets among friends and visitors.
"Now since he has been elected the Governor, he will be in a much higher position and we feel very happy," said Kailash Devi, Jindal's paternal aunt.
Jindal had made history in 2004 by becoming the first Indian American to be elected to the US Congress in nearly 50 years. In 2006 he was re-elected to the US House of Representatives. Jindal's cousin Tarseen Jindal, said his being elected Governor was a matter of pride for the entire nation.
"We are very proud of the fact that he has risen to this position from a very poor family. Hailing from such a small place he has made a big name for himself. The whole India is proud of this," he said.
Jindal, 36, the Oxford-educated son of Indian immigrants, won 53 per cent votes with his nearest competitor Democrat Walter Boasso who could procure only 18 per cent of votes. Independent John Georges received 14 per cent and Democrat Foster Campbell garnered 13 per cent of the votes. Jindal has become the state's first non-white governor since Reconstruction and the nation's youngest governor in office upon taking oath in January.
"My mom and dad came to this country in pursuit of the American Dream, and guess what happened? They found the American Dream to be alive and well right here in Louisiana," a foreign news agency quoted Jindal as saying in his victory speech. The race for the post of the Governor is said to be one of the highest spending in Louisiana's history.
Jindal alone raised 11 million dollars, and Georges poured about 10 million dollars of his personal wealth into his campaign, while Boasso spent around five million dollars.
Incidentally, in 2003, Jindal garnered 48 per cent of the vote, but still lost to Democrat Kathleen Blanco. Blanco ended her re-election bid earlier this year after being sharply criticised for sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.