Indian-Americans throng RNC convention despite Jindal's absence

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New York, Sep 9 (UNI) The Indian-Americans emphatically registered their presence at the Republican National Convention (RNC) despite the absence of Louisiana Governor Piyush 'Bobby' Jindal who was busy supervising preparations to tide over hurricane Gustav.

Mr Jindal could have been the first Indian-American to have made a speech at a major US party gathering.

As if to compensate Mr Jindal's absence, another community member Ms Sunita Krishna recited the Pledge of Allegiance on the opening day of the four-day RNC, which concluded late last week. This was the first time an Indian-American recited the pledge at a major US political party convention. Ms Krishna hails from Arizona, the home state of John McCain, who was crowned as the party nominee for the US presidency.

Dr Raghavendra Vijayanagar from Tampa, Florda, a key player among Indian-American supporters of the Republican Party, played host to a community event on the sidelines of the RNC, which was held in the twin cities of St Paul and Minneapolis (Minnesota). Dr Vijayanagar, who has performed 400 heart surgeries, cited the experience of McCain versus the inexperience of Barack Obama, the Democratic Party's nominee for US President.

According to Dr Sampat Shivangi, another important member of the Indian-American Republican Party establishment, the McCain presidency would bring India potential benefits as the Senator from Arizona has a deep insight on South Asia.

Businessman Narendra Reddy from Georgia added that Obama's 'cool' attitude cannot be considered a requirement for the President of America.

Among those who attended the RNC were Harmeet Dhillon, a candidate for the California State Assembly from the 13th district; Sunana Batra, director of operations of the California Republican Party and whip of the largest state delegation to the RNC; Puneet Ahluwalia, partner at George Allen Strategies in Alexandria, Virginia; Dino Teppara, Congressman Joe Wilson's chief of staff and counsel; Neena Moorjani, a volunteer for Specialty Media; Kishan Putta, who recently founded an organisation called Indians for McCain; and Piyush Agrawal, regional vice-president for North America, Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin.

The exact number of Indian-American participants in the RNC was not available. However, Dr Vijaynagar and others estimated that nearly 100 members of the community took part in the gathering.

There are nearly 3 million Indians in America. Traditionally, Indians have been considered strong supporters of the Democratic Party. However, with changing scenario it has now been estimated that the community is split 60:40 between the Democrats and the Republicans.


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