Bobby Jindal, a Republican presidential hopeful and Governor of Louisiana, appeared to fuel social media vitriol against himself amongst Indians this week when he said that nations such as India and Vietnam were “desperate and hungry for American leadership,” even as he rejected the label of “Indian-American.”
Attacking President Barack Obama’s foreign and domestic policies, Mr. Jindal , who last month threw his hat into the ring along with a large, eclectic mix of 2016 election contenders, said, “I’m tired of >hyphenated Americans . We’re not Irish-Americans or Indian-Americans or African-Americans or rich Americans or poor Americans. We’re all Americans.”
Speaking to conservative news show host Sean Hannity on Fox News, Mr. Jindal, who was originally named “Piyush,” and whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from Punjab, criticised a recent article on Washington Post that spoke about his antecedents arguing, “I was offended by the Washington Post saying as an Indian-American that you had abandoned the Indian-American community, and something to that effect. I felt that was a racial comment.”
He hit out at Mr. Obama’s policy towards West Asia and Islamic State saying, “You got a President who… won’t even name the enemy. You’ve got leaders in the Middle East that understand the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. We’ve got a President won’t even say those words!”
Mr. Jindal has raised the hackles of observers in India with defensive statements about his Indian origins in the past, and has generally shied away from identifying closely with the Indian-American community. He alluded to this once again during the Fox interview.
He lambasted U.S. media for its criticisms. “Look, they can’t fathom the fact that you can be conservative and smart or that you can look a different way and still be a Christian”.
A busy campaign tour that he kicked off on June 24 notwithstanding, even conservative media channels like Fox News have called his run for the White House against heavyweights such as like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a “long-shot campaign.”
On the back of his credentials as a strong social conservative, Mr. Jindal’s hopes for the Republican presidential nomination rest upon his appeal amongst evangelical voters.
He has attacked a wide range of policies advanced by the Obama administration and the U.S. Supreme court, including the Court’s latest ruling on same-sex marriages and its prior support for the President’s landmark healthcare reform.