Tulsi Gabbard is a Rising Progressive Star, Despite Her Support for Hindu Nationalists
by Soumya Shankar, The Intercept, January 5, 2019 (excerpt)
… Gabbard — a member of the House committees on Foreign Affairs and Armed Services, and co-chair of the India Caucus — is an oddity in American politics. Ever since her 2016 resignation from the Democratic National Committee to endorse Bernie Sanders for president, she has been a rising star in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Last year, she racked up endorsements from groups like Progressive Democrats of America and Our Revolution, and she sailed to re-election.
But she has also become a polarizing figure. Her progressive domestic politics are at odds with her support for authoritarians abroad, including Modi, Sisi, and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. As right-wing nationalism rises across the globe, it is beginning to be recognized as an existential threat to a world order rooted in liberal democratic values, and Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran, is now being pushed to choose sides. (Gabbard did not respond to The Intercept’s multiple requests for comment.)
Gabbard was embraced early on by pro-Modi elements of the Hindu-American diaspora in the U.S., who have donated generously to her campaigns. But as she flirts with the idea of running for president, she has publicly cut ties with those fervent supporters on at least one occasion, while continuing to court them in private….
In June, 2014, after Modi won the election, nearly 700 of his supporters gathered at a Hindu temple in Atlanta to celebrate and plan their path forward. To mobilize their community, the speakers laid out a plan that included a call for donations to Gabbard’s re-election campaign….
The Hindu American Foundation is a prominent, not-for-profit advocacy organization of Hindu-Americans with strong ties to Gabbard. In a 2014 Atlanta speech, Gabbard said she and her team are in touch with HAF on a weekly, if not daily, basis. HAF co-founder and former VHPA activist Mihir Meghani has donated $18,500 to Gabbard’s campaigns and has organized several fundraisers for her. Meghani, a California physician, did not respond to The Intercept’s request for comment. In the 2017-2018 election cycle, individual board members of HAF collectively donated $24,000 to Gabbard’s campaign, the news outlet Sludge reported….
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