President Donald Trump has described the November 3 election as the “most important” in US history.
For the influential 1.8 million Indian-Americans, it is much more so as they hold unprecedented sway in key battleground states and could be what a top Democratic lawmaker termed “an absolute difference maker”.
There are more than 257 million people in the US who are 18 or older, and nearly 240 million citizens are eligible to vote this year, according to an American daily.
More than 80 million Americans have already cast their ballots, according to a tally on Thursday from the US Elections Project at the University of Florida, setting the stage for the highest participation rate in over a century.
“We’re seeing a very energised, interested electorate, and we’re seeing a public that is responding to a message that you need to cast that ballot early this year,” said Paul Gronke, a professor of political science at Reed College who runs the Early Voter Information Center.
The influential Indian-American community is finding itself increasingly wooed by both parties through a series of ads, speeches and exhortations of community leaders.
Democratic National Committee chair Thomas Perez has said that the Indian-American vote can be an “absolute difference maker” in the US polls.
“The Indian-American community contributes a lot to the US, and it is the best country in the world but we have to protect them. So, we need the American community to remember that President Trump has given us the lowest unemployment and has allowed for businesses to thrive,” Indian-American Nikki Haley, the former UN Ambassador said recently.
“The relationship with India has never been stronger. India is the largest democracy that shares our values. And president Trump and prime minister Modi get along so well. But now we are actually partnering with them on defense and trade and other areas,” she said.
Many Indian-Americans seem to agree with Haley and feel they are better off voting for Trump.
“The main issues pushing the vote in this direction are; Indians love law and order and ‘defunding the police’ calls in various cities have not gone down too well with them,” feels prominent Houston community leader Achalesh Amar.
“Adverse comments by top Democrats on Kashmir and CAA have infuriated many Indian voters. China and Pakistan conflicts and the recent support given to India by the USA has been noticed and appreciated,” he said.
Vibhuti Jha, an expert on US polls and executive director Nalanda International, USA, hopes Indian-Americans will likely show their wisdom to free themselves from the “Trump Derangement Syndrome” and vote for him based on his administration’s support towards India.
“The Democratic leadership and its ‘idli samosa coalition’ of 5 desi names in Congress, have only supported anti-India resolutions passed against India. I am positive Indian votes will shift to Trump as the majority are angry with the Biden-Kamala agenda to chastise India at the behest of anti-India forces,” Jha said.
Lakshmi Mahadevan prayed for a Trump victory and voted early on Dussehra. She fears if Biden wins, there will be potential for lawlessness, social unrest, nepotism and chaos.
“Harris’ disdain in allowing a relative to desecrate Goddess Durga during auspicious Navratri fortnight has offended all Hindus and to add insult to injury has refrained from issuing an apology. That shows poor judgement,” she said.
Harris’ myopic geopolitical vision and warmongering attitude are evident from her statements, she said.
“President Trump whom we at Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC) call “Reagan on Steroids”, has been true to all his 2016 election promises to the Indian-American community and India,” said industrialist and founder of the RHC Shalabh Kumar, who held a rally for Trump in October 2016 in Edison, New Jersey, where Trump pledged to the crowd that India would always have a friend in the White House if he was elected.
“Trump’s focus on keeping the economy running during COVID-19 times by giving a boost to all small businesses, either by a tax cut or by the prompt stimulus to keep them afloat, shows his business acumen and concern for the small business community,” said Karishma Himatsinghani, a Dallas-based media entrepreneur.
Paramita Sarkar, another Trump supporter, said this election is not just for choosing the next president but is about setting a course for global cooperation amongst vibrant democracies and defeating the socialist “radical forces of evil”.
“It is about standing with a proven leader who has kept promises to lower taxes, streamline regulations, ensure protection of our constitutional rights and enhance the nation’s security. I’m voting for Donald Trump for his optimism, fearlessness, outspoken, upstanding leadership and for promoting merit-based immigration,” she said.
“Indian-American voters can clearly see Democrats have given lollipops that taste good but have no substance. They send messages on Hindu festivals, but take a stand against Kashmir or other policies that matter for India or Indian Americans,” said Dr Krishna Bhatta, from Maine.
“This time Indian Americans need to think and decide to vote based on who is better for law and order? Who is better for the economy and who can stand against the menace of terrorism or the high handedness of China? Who can achieve more without going to war? And finally, who can be trusted, the one who says she is Black in one forum and Brown in another,” he said.