It appears that Congressman Rohit ‘Ro’ Khanna, who represents California’s congressional district 17 and was an Indian-American hero not so long ago, has suddenly become the biggest foe of some members of the community.
On Sunday, Sept 15, Congressman Khanna was handed a letter signed by 230 US-based Hindu organizations expressing “serious concern” over his joining the Pakistan caucus in the House of Representatives, his statements on the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A in Jammu & Kashmir, and his fearless stand for pluralism.
Serving his second term, Khanna, whose congressional district has a high percentage of Indian- Americans, including many members of the Overseas Friends of the BJP (OFBJP), was urged by the signatories to withdraw from the caucus and stop issuing statements against the Indian administration.
The letter said, “We urge you to withdraw from the Congressional Pakistan Caucus. We further urge you to write directly to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and meet with Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan to address Pakistan’s ongoing use of terrorism to destabilize the region and its rampant and severe human rights violations.”
Congressman Khanna had given the OFBJP a reality check when he tweeted on Aug 29: “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.”
The letter further said, “We urge you to make a formal statement for the Congressional record in order to educate other policymakers on this issue. This statement should address the increased civil rights that will be afforded to the residents of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh with the removal of Article 370.”
Referring to Khanna’s tweet, Suhag A Shukla, co-founder and executive director of the Hindu American Federation, told indica via email, that the community members are deeply frustrated with Ro’s tweet for a variety of reasons. First, his tweet is seen as subversive because it directly approved a hit piece on Tulsi Gabbard, who has made history as the first Hindu American presidential candidate, and her Hindu and Indian-American supporters. Second, his tweet implies that both Tulsi and her supporters are somehow
champions of Hindutva. Third, the tweet is patronizing and reductive in its reference to ‘Hindtuva’.
“I have no interest in defining or defending the term, but numerous issues that most Hindu Americans support are pejoratively labeled ‘Hindutva’ in spite of them promoting equality and secularism,” Shukla said.
Shukla said Khanna’s tweet endorsed a bigoted, racist activist, referring to the writer of the controversial Caravan report that exposed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its American associates’ attempts to gain a foothold in the US administration by bankrolling Gabbard’s run for president and perpetuated the ‘weaponization’ of the term Hindutva. This term, which has no single meaning, has routinely been used to attack, discredit, and silence Hindu Americans, Shukla claimed.
As a representative and member of the Hindu American community, Khanna ought to be more conversant with these dynamics and subtleties, Shukla said. Instead, the congressman appears to be lacking in understanding not only his community but a significant portion of his constituency