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Updated: July 7, 2010 13:00 IST

More Indian-Americans contesting polls this year

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Nikki Haley speaks to supporters after winning the Republican nomination for Governor in Columbia, South Carolina. With the rise of ‘desi power’, a record number of Indian-Americans are running for public office this year.
AP Nikki Haley speaks to supporters after winning the Republican nomination for Governor in Columbia, South Carolina. With the rise of ‘desi power’, a record number of Indian-Americans are running for public office this year.

With the rise of ‘desi power’, a record number of Indian-Americans are running for public office this year.

In addition to Nikki ‘Randhawa’ Haley, who brushed aside allegations including an ethnic slur to become the Republican nominee for Governor in South Carolina, Indian-Americans are campaigning this year for congressional seats in Pennsylvania, Kansas, California, New York and Ohio.

More than a dozen others serve in senior positions in the Obama administration, including U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra and USAID chief Rajiv Shah.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, the first Indian-American Governor, made the Republican short list for Vice-President in 2008.

Like Ms. Haley, most of the politicians in races this year are second-generation immigrants who volunteered for local political campaigns, served in State legislatures or worked on Capitol Hill, the Washington Post noted on Tuesday.

Manan Trivedi, a doctor and Iraq war veteran, recently won the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District. Before running for Congress, he served as a healthcare adviser to the Obama campaign.

Raj Goyle, who has served in the Kansas legislature for three years, is running in the Democratic primary in the 4th Congressional District, which includes his home town of Wichita.

Reshma Saujani, a Democratic fundraiser in the South Asian community, says she is the first Indian American woman to run for Congress.

“I always wanted to serve, but I never thought someone with my name could actually run,” Saujani, who is challenging Democratic House member Carolyn B. Maloney in the Sep 14 primary, told the Post.

The increased political involvement is an indication of “successful assimilation into mainstream American society”, Dino Teppara, chair of the Indian American Conservative Council and former chief of staff for Republican House member Joe Wilson, was quoted as saying.

The estimated 2.5 million Indian Americans rank among the most highly educated ethnic groups in the US, according to census figures, and they have the highest per capita income.

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