US Cong polls: 5 Indian-Americans still in race; 4 kicked out

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Washington, Aug 16: With the November Congressional polls entering the crucial last 90 days, five Indian-origin candidates, including 25-year-old "young gun" Ranjit 'Rikky' Gill, and a Hindu-American woman remain in the race for the US House of Representatives.

The primaries phase of the Congressional elections has kicked out four Indian-Americans from the race. It also resulted in the shocking defeat of Congressman Hansen Clare of Bangladeshi origin. One Nepali-origin candidate could also not pursue his political ambition beyond the primary elections. Five Indian-Americans remaining in the contest and giving a tough fight to their opponents in their respective Congressional districts are Upendra Chivukula from New Jersey; Ami Bera and Ranjit 'Rikky' Gill both from California; Manan Trivedi from Pennsylvania; and Syed Taj from Michigan. Of them, only Gill is from the Republican Party while the rest four represent the Democrats.

Interestingly, Bera, Trivedi and Taj are doctors, while Chivukula is currently Deputy Speaker of New Jersey assembly. 25-year-old Gill, the youngest of all and unmarried, has attracted national attention and endorsements from top Republican leadership. The victory of Tulsi Gabbard, a Hindu-American, in the November elections is said to be taken for granted given that her Congressional seat is a strong bastion for the Democrats.

As such, Hindu-Americans have already started the celebrations. So far only two Indian-Americans have been elected to the US Congress. Dalip Singh Saund was the first Indian-American elected to the House of Representatives in 1950s, while Bobby Jindal, now the Louisiana Governor, was the second one.

However, Indian-Americans closely following the campaign hope that there would be an addition to this exclusive club; given that some of them are in a dead heat with their opponents, according to latest polls; while almost all of them surprised their opponents by raising substantial amount of money.

According to recent opinion polls, Gill is in a "dead heat" with his Democratic opponent and incumbent Jerry McNerney from California's 9th Congressional District. Running for the second consecutive time, Trivedi is fast closing the gap with his incumbent Republican opponent Congressman Jim Geralch. Bera too is being considered by pollsters' neck-and-neck with his opponent Dan Lungren.

Not surprising, for election observers, is the pace at which these candidates have been raising funds, given that Indian-Americans have the highest per capita income among various ethnic groups here. 

PTI

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