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Here’s why despite Indian media’s best efforts, Kamala Harris will never be as popular among Indians as Tulsi Gabbard

There is some personal rivalry between the two as it is widely believed that Kamala Harris failed in her presidential bid due to the intervention of Tulsi Gabbard during the Democratic presidential debates.

The Indian media has provided extremely fawning coverage of Kamala Harris ever since she announced her run for the presidency. The fawning coverage continued when Joe Biden declared her as his Vice Presidential nominee and the coverage scaled new heights after Joe Biden won the elections and Kamala Harris became the Vice President of the United States of America.

Nevertheless, people in India have not really been half as enthusiastic about Harris as the media. While Indian media went all in for her, Indians on the internet have been quite cautious about her. On the other hand, there is one female American politician who does not receive as much coverage in Indian media but is vastly more popular than Harris in the Indian sections of social media. We are referring, of course, to Tulsi Gabbard.

Tulsi Gabbard is a former US Congresswoman from Hawaii. She became the first Hindu to get elected to the US House of Representatives and was the first Hindu to run for the presidency of the United States of America. She practices progressive politics and is a member of the Democrat party. She served in the US Congress until January 2021 after he decided not to contest for reelection.

There is some personal rivalry between the two as it is widely believed that Kamala Harris failed in her presidential bid due to the intervention of Tulsi Gabbard during the Democratic presidential debates. The former Congresswoman from Hawaii slammed Kamala Harris for her duplicity with regards to prison reform and marijuana legalisation.

One of the foremost reasons for her popularity among Indians is her warm regards for India. Unlike other progressive members of her party, Tulsi Gabbard has been positive in her views regarding India and has unequivocally taken India’s side on contentious matters such as Article 370.

After Article 370 was revoked, she was one of the few Democrats who were outspoken in their support for India’s decision. Gabbard has also been extremely critical of Pakistan and has regularly called them out for providing a safe haven to terrorists. At the same time, she has advocated for better ties between the USA and India to confront and combat shared threats and collaborate on mutual interests.

There is another much stronger reason for Gabbard’s popularity. Her Hindu identity does endear her to Indians at large, the overwhelming majority of whom are Hindus. When she says ‘Jai Shri Krishna’ or wishes people on the occasion of Gaura Purnima, it makes her more relatable to Indians, which is natural.

Tulsi Gabbard, unfortunately, has been targeted a lot for her Hindu identity. Her Hindu identity was enough to brand her a ‘Hindutva fascist’ by Hinduphobic bigots. One of the reasons cited was that she shares a warm relationship with Prime Minister Modi and therefore, she was accused of being an ‘RSS plant’.

Such accusations are little disguised efforts at character assassination by vested interests as cordial relationships between political leaders of two countries are completely natural. Former US President Barack Obama shared a good relationship with Narendra Modi, as did Donald Trump. And now, Joe Bide, too, is on good terms with the Indian Prime Minister.

We have evidence now that the propaganda campaign to malign Tulsi Gabbard, a veteran of the Iraq War, was launched by Pakistan-backed Khalistanis. It was part of a larger effort to target Hindus in the United States of America.

It would have been very easy for her to be apologetic about her Hindu identity, and hardly anyone could have blamed her for it, but she decided instead to go on the offensive and call out the pervasive Hinduphobia that is so dominant in public discourse. She condemned politicians and the media for not only refusing to condemn it but fomenting it in the first place.

During her campaign, when an attempt was made to corner her about the Gujarat riots, which had absolutely nothing to do with her, she took the opportunity to educate the person about her misguided efforts. She had said, “Again, back up your claims with evidence. The contributions that I get for my campaign come from American citizens. What you are doing right now is levelling criticism against American citizens who just happen to be Hindus and who are involved in our democratic process.”

Tulsi Gabbard again earned great appreciation from Indians on Friday when she spoke out in favour of the persecuted Bengali Hindus in Bangladesh. She condemned the Pakistsani Army’s genocide of Bengali Hindus in the 1970s, one of the darkest phases of the 20th century that has largely been forgotten, partly due to the secularist conspiracy to cover up the mass murder.

The then Indian Government under the Congress party was itself responsible for it as they feared highlighting the genocide of Bengali Hindus would vitiate communal harmony in India.

“As a member of Congress, I introduced a resolution that called for the protection of Hindus and religious minorities in Bangladesh. People who continue to be targeted and persecuted to this day. The height of this persecution actually began 50 years ago, when the Pakistani army systematically murdered, raped and drove from their homes, millions of Bengali Hindus because of their religion and ethnicity,” Tulsi Gabbard said in a video message published on Friday.

She continued, “March 25th, 1971 was the beginning of a systematic targeting of Hindus in Bangladesh by the Pakistani military. It began in Hindu neighbourhoods and villages, first at Jagannath Hall, which was a Hindu dormitory in Dhaka University, where five to ten thousand people were killed on that first night alone. This genocidal campaign continued for 10 months, resulting in two to three million people killed. Hundreds of thousands of women and girls raped and more than 10 million forced to flee their homes.”

Kamala Harris, on the other hand, despite her Indian heritage has largely been silent on matters related to India. While she has certainly been far better than her progressive counterparts in the Democratic Party since she was elected, prior to that, she did make some rather problematic comments.

She said during one of her interviews, ‘We have to remind Kashmiris that they are not alone in the world. We are keeping track of the situation. There is a need to intervene if the situation demands.’ Furthermore, despite her Indian heritage, she has far lesser of a cultural affinity with Indian than Tulsi Gabbard.

Nevertheless, it does say a lot about Indian media that it has gone gaga over Harris while ignoring an American politician who has been more of a friend to India than Kamala Harris has ever been.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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