indica News Bureau-
A coalition of American academics, community leaders, and activists have authored an open letter to Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden criticizing his hiring an aide with alleged Hindu nationalist ties and a supporter of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
Biden’s campaign is facing growing backlash from civil rights advocates over Amit Jani being selected as his Asian American and Pacific Islanders Outreach (AAPI) director and Muslim Outreach Coordinator, and the growing calls for Jani to be terminated by the campaign.
According to published reports, Jani has been removed from his Muslim outreach duties and but will remain the campaign’s Asian-American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) national vote director, and Farooq Mitha, a former advisor on Muslim outreach to to former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016, has been hired, although the move has not yet been announced.
Political activists say Jani, hired in September 2019 weeks after India’s revocation of Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status, is unfit to work on the campaign because of his close ties to Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“To hire a supporter and friend of Narendra Modi opens the door to embracing anti-Muslim and Hindu nationalist politics,” an open letter published March 6 by Equality Labs, a South Asian American advocacy organization. “Progressive Asian Americans and South Asian Americans cannot stand by a candidate with relationships to fascists, here or abroad.”
In addition, a petition on Change.org calls for Jani to be terminated by the campaign.
“Amit Jani has been appointed as National Asian American Pacific Islander Director to the presidential campaign for Joe Biden but he does not represent all South Asians. In fact the appointment is offensive to Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Kashmiris, and even Indians who believe in liberty and justice for all,” the petition reads. “Amit Jani is a supporter of Narendra Modi a promoter of RSS, who was until banned from entering the United States for his role in the Gujarat Genocide of 2002 and the recent lynching and persecution of Christian, Sikh and Muslim minorities. Appointment of an RSS supporter to a position that is supposed to promote diversity will result in polarization not agreement.”
Jani’s father, Suresh Jani, was a founder of the Overseas Friends of BJP in the U.S., a New Jersey-based organization associated with India’s ruling party that celebrated Modi’s reelection.
According to published reports, Modi stayed for several days at Suresh Jani’s home when Modi first visited the US in 1993.
Amit Jani, an Indian American who has worked in New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s office, posted photos of himself with Modi, including after Modi’s reelection victory and during the “Howdy Modi” event in Texas, on Facebook, according to news reports.
Amit Jani has been vocal in his support of Modi over the years. In a 2014 Huffington Post blog Jani recalled Modi’s visit to his home and compared Modi to then US President Barack Obama.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been called many things, among them a reformer, visionary, catalyst for a new Indian era, and even a saint,” Jani wrote. “Perhaps what has enabled the American people and Indian-American youth to connect with Modi is a sense of the shared values of democracy, between that of the oldest democracy in the world and that of the largest.”