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Path to White House: Why it seems like a dreary picture for Bobby Jindal?

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bobby-jindal

By Prachi Mishra

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal recently took to twitter to announce that he is running for Presidential elections in United States of America.

With this announcement, several statements deeming Jindal as having odd chances at winning the elections have also started doing the rounds in the media circuit.

A recent poll conducted by CNN showed that winning the election is a long shot for Jindal, as he was placed at the bottom of the field, registering only 1% of support.

Many have been asserting that Jindal had a fair chance of winning the elections in 2012. However, this time his path to the White House seems to be a bit difficult.

Drop in popularity in Louisiana

Jindal started on a high note as Louisiana governor. His handling of Hurricane Gustav in 2008 brought widespread accolades, contrary to his predecessor’s handling of Katrina in 2005.

However, now his popularity, in his own state has taken a toll as he nears the end of his tenure. He has been consistently criticized for focusing more on laying the groundwork for a presidential run than on Louisiana’s fiscal troubles.

The primary reason for the dip in Jindal’s popularity is because of his handling of the state’s budget woes. In the recent past Louisana has faced severe budget troubles and additional reductions to state services. His refusal to raise taxes to help balance the state’s books has caused budget cuts to popular programs including health care and education sectors.

The huge dip in his popularity came to the fore with a recent poll conducted by CNN, showing his approval in his own state, at a mere 32 per cent.

“Governor Jindal has failed Louisiana in every way possible, and there’s no reason to believe he will have any more success as a candidate than he did as governor, ”State Senator Karen Carter Peterson, was reported as saying by a media outlet.

#BobbyJindalIsSoWhite: Disowning his roots

Jindal is facing a lot of flak on Twitter after he, while launching his presidential bid, tweeted that doesn’t want to be called an Indian-American.

The Indian- American community slammed Jindal for his tweet and started trending #BobbyJindalIsSoWhite to mock him.

The jokes were started by professional Indian-American comics Hari Kondabolu and Asif Mandvi.

Earlier in January this year, he had asserted that he didn’t believe in hyphenated identities, adding that his parents came to the US from India to become ‘Americans’ and not ‘Indian-Americans’.

Difficulty in emerging from the ‘pack’

With the announcement, Jindal has become the 13th major Republican candidate to enter the race, along with Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, neurosurgeon Ben Cars et al.

Several of the candidates have a much higher profiles and more prominent political victories as compared to Jindal’s.

Despite acknowledging the fact he had brought reforms in his state, it can’t be denied that the other candidates too have achieved rehabilitation for their respective states.

In order to emerge from the ‘pack’ of and distinguish himself, Jindal will have to bring some serious efforts to clear the route for him.

Running for presidential elections might be an uphill task for Jindal, but not an impossible one, provided he revives his reputation that has dropped immensely in the recent past.

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Issues Over Heritage In Illinois Election Campaign

"We vote by the type of person and what that person can do and not by anything else"

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Midterm Elections, illinois
Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Illinois. VOA

In an Illinois congressional district where just six percent of the constituency is Indian American, the incumbent Democrat Congressman is being challenged by another Indian American.

“I see it as American versus American,” Jitendra Diganvker, or “JD” — the Republican challenger for the Illinois 8th district, said.

“Yeah we happen to be Indian,” he added dismissively.

“It is a good thing that members of minorities are running as Democrats or as Republicans,” the incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi said.

The Illinois 8th District is 51 percent Caucasian, 28 percent Hispanic,14 percent Asian, and four percent African-American, according to the most recent U.S. Census data. Of those Asians, about half are Indian, according to the campaigns’ estimates.

Views and policy

In this diverse district, voters care about issues more than identity.

“I don’t care about them being Indian American. I just hope that whichever one wins that they support and help the people,” said Michelle Sims, an employee at the DuPage Community College. “And if you’re Indian then, hey, that’s fine. Just help the people.”

A Jamaican-American university student, Amara Creighton, says she thinks it is great that two minority candidates are running and have support, regardless of their ethnicity.

“I think what’s more important is their views and their policies,” Creighton said. “I mean, it doesn’t really matter to me what their minority is as long as they’re standing up for us and doing good for us.”

This rare instance of two candidates of the same minority running against each other is reflective of a larger trend throughout the United States – record numbers of Indian Americans are running for office and winning their elections.

In 2016, four Indian Americans — one of them being Krishnamoorthi, were elected to the U.S. House and a fifth was elected to the Senate — outnumbering in just one election the total number of Indian Americans to serve as U.S. representatives.

illinois
Incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi goes by his first name, which his constituents can more easily pronounce. VOA

Krishnamoorthi, a businessman and former deputy state treasurer, was elected to his first term in the House of Representatives in 2016. He succeeded Democrat Tammy Duckworth, who was elected that year to the U.S. Senate.

Diganvker is a small businessman, Uber driver, and ardent member of the local Republican party. As the underdog, he is running as a “day-to-day” guy, and says he decided to run because he feels his opponent is out of touch with middle-class, hardworking families in his community.

But his opponent, who is completing his first term in Congress, says he is far from out of touch with his community. He visits each weekend to see his wife and children when Congress is in session.

Though both candidates are immigrants, their views on immigration policy differ. Krishnamoorthi, the Democrat, has been critical of Trump’s policies to decrease refugee allowances and speaks out against family separations at the border.

“We shouldn’t separate parents from children,” he told VOA. “That’s an abomination.”

Though Diganvker, too, opposes family separations at the border, he favors Trump’s promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico and supported the travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries.

illinois
Republican challenger Jitendra “JD” Digavnker says he is running as a “day-to-day” guy. VOA

“I’m also an immigrant. I followed the legal process and I believe in merit-based immigration,” he said, adding that merit-based immigration “brings the right skill set of people into our country.”

Krishnamoorthi, however, said that his parents legal immigration to the United States has not hardened his immigration stance.

“The fact that my parents came here legally and someone [else] did not, doesn’t mean that we should be inhumane or disrespectful, doesn’t mean we should treat them with anything less than dignity,” he said.

Diverse constituency

Both Congressional candidates are Hindu, but have wooed members of various religions in the community.

“When you come to this country there is no race,” said Farrukh Khan, a Muslim halal-shop owner in Schaumburg. “We should not go for the race, we should go for the people who more care about you and your community. Hindu or Muslim doesn’t matter.”

illinois
Halal shop-owner Farrukh Khan says that he is unconsidered by the religion of either candidate. VOA

So as not to lose a customer, he did not indicate which man he will support in the November election.

Myrna Frankel has volunteered for Krishnamoorthi since his first campaign, an unsuccessful bid for Illinois comptroller in 2010. They know each other through the Jewish Beth Tikvah Congregation in Schaumburg where the congressman, who lives a few blocks away, sent his children for nursery school.

“He considers himself a JewDu – half Jewish, half Hindu,” she recounted with a laugh.

Myrna’s husband, Robert, said that this diversity and community relationships are typical of their community.

“Our state senator is from Mexico. Our state representative is from Puerto Rico. Our junior senator is of Thai background,” he said.

“We vote by the type of person and what that person can do and not by anything else,” he said.

Also Read: Democrats Gain Fundraising Advantage In The US Midterm Elections

When it comes to policy, voters in the Illinois 8th seem to heavily favor the incumbent. Early polling by Five Thirty Eight shows a “99% chance” that Krishnamoorthi will win. Rasmussen’s most recent poll shows a “Strong Dem” leaning in the midterm. As of June 30, Krishnamoorthi had raised more than $4 million compared to Diganvker’s $29,000.

But the challenger isn’t intimidated.

“People can give him $10 million and that’s not going to scare me,” he said, adding that despite recent polling, his campaign is “1,000 percent sure” that he will win in November. (VOa)