“I have received overwhelmingly positive comments from people in the district of all faiths about my support for the US-India relationship, for pluralism, and for peace,” said Congressman Rohit ‘Ro’ Khanna who represents California’s Congressional district 17, which has a high percentage of Indian Americans.
Serving his second term in the US House of Representatives, Congressman Khanna has been harshly attacked by the members of Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP)-USA who are urging him to withdraw from the Pakistan congressional caucus and not talk against the Indian administration or express his views on the recent abrogation of Article 370 and 35A relating to Jammu & Kashmir.
Congressman Khanna recently joined the Pakistan caucus and gave the OFBJP a reality check when on Aug 29 he fearlessly tweeted: “It’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhist(s) and Christians.”
BJP supporters in the US have been asking Khanna to delete the tweet claiming that it is sending a negative message across the US, especially in the Indian community.
“I am very angry with him,” said Sunil Ganu, a member of the OFBJP. Another BJP supporter Rajeev Singh on Facebook even called Congressman Khanna a ‘political opportunist’ and a “poster child of what’s wrong with some American political figures. His tweet reminded me of leaders who lack judgement. His attempt to distract and divide his constituents by promoting identity politics was unnecessary and ill-timed. Ro Khanna is showing signs of political expediency, which can lead us down the path of familiar misadventures all over again.
Congressman Khanna, however, strongly defended his work and his position. Responding to indica, on the above issue he said, “They [members of the Indian community] respect the work I have done on strengthening defense ties between the US and India and also for diplomacy.
“Our approval rating in the district is 78 percent favorable, the highest of any Santa Clara or Alameda County politician. I have the overwhelming support of the Indian American community and am very proud of it.”
Welcoming Congressman Khanna’s stand on ‘Hindutva’, Amar Shergill, an attorney, executive board member of the California Democratic Party (CDP) and chair of the CDP Progressive Caucus, wrote a strong op-ed article that was published in sanjoseinside.com (http://www.sanjoseinside.com/2019/09/03/op-ed-ro-khanna-rejects-hindutva-launches-new-debate-for-south-asian-americans/).
Shergill told indica, “Those community members that are criticizing Congressman Khanna should note that he advocates for human rights for everyone, not just the folks in his district or that voted for him.”
“There is a seismic shift that is occurring in the South Asian American community regarding the Hindutva supremacist movement that has taken hold in India and is making inroads in the US. This will be the beginning of a long-overdue discussion within our community and the Democratic Party. Congressman Ro Khanna should be heralded for taking this tough moral stand when a lot of elected officials were busy looking the other way.”
In the op-ed article, Shergill wrote that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won elections “by pairing violent political rhetoric with virtual impunity for those that engage in the rape, torture, murder and oppression of Indian Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Ravidassias, and Hindu Dalits.”
He continued, “Modi’s political party (BJP) and its cultural counterpart organizations (RSS, VHP, etc.) form the backbone of the Hindutva movement. However, in deference to the complexity of India, we should note that this is not simply a religious conflict. Hindutva is a fascist and supremacist movement similar to white supremacist movements in the US. It mobilizes around a virulent religious ethno-nationalism, holding that India is a homeland for only Hindus and uses violence to intimidate compliance around its economic and political policies.”
Shergill further wrote that Congressman Khanna is “the highest-ranking American elected official of Indian origin, with a deep understanding of and connection to South Asian politics, and, yet, he stated indecisive moral terms that the dominant political ideology of India must be rejected as a matter of human rights. This is brave new ground for South Asian policy discourse in the US.”
Shergill said Khanna had exposed the hypocrisy of the BJP supporters. “South Asian Americans simply cannot claim to support civil rights and equality for all Americans while simultaneously advocating for religious supremacy that results in the rape, torture, murder and oppression of minorities in India,” he wrote.
[Photo Courtesy:Rep. Ro Khanna Facebook]