With barely two weeks to go for the US presidential elections, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate, seems more likely to win over the Indian American votes, even as Donald Trump is making several attempts to reach out to the ‘Hindus’.
The race for the US presidency is drawing to an end and as the reports and pre-poll predictions clearly show the Indian Americans are tilted towards the Hillary Clinton camp, with 65 pc favouring the Democratic candidate over the 35 pc for the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, according to data by the Pew Research Centre. However, there have been repeated attempts in the recent past by Trump to bring the Indian diaspora on his side, trying to challenge the reported stronghold that the Democratic Party holds over the community.
Trump’s rhetoric of ‘Make America great again’ hasn’t gone unnoticed by the large immigrant population in the country, which has reacted in several ways to his proposed policies and statements on immigration, including his proposed ‘wall’ to stem illegal immigration. However, he added that the illegal immigrants were the ones to benefit as opposed to those who entered legally, such as the Indians. This has found resonance among certain sections of Indian immigrants, mostly who go on to work on white collar jobs such as those in the Information Technology sector.
Among the approximate 4 million population of Indian Americans, around 1 million are said to be registered voters, some of whom haven’t found themselves able to shake off the xenophobic comments made by Trump. Trump’s appeal to Indian Americans has come as equating the entire population with being Hindus, ignoring the religious minorities such as Muslims, Buddhists and Christians who also identify themselves as Indians. Clinton’s immigration policies, on the other hand, have not been as unabashed and have found more popularity as her party has been historically associated with being more inclusive of diversity. Her connections with India remain strong as her visits from her time as both the First Lady of the US as well as Secretary of State are remembered as points of strengthening Indo-US ties. Grassroots organisations such as the Indian-Americans for Hillary (IAFH) group have been formed to lend her support. However, she is plagued with allegations of high-level corruption and scandalous emails being brought to the surface by Wikileaks.
Trump has only recently begun pushing initiatives for making new connections with Indian Americans. Individual businessmen forming committees and online support groups such as ‘Indian-Americans For Trump 2016’ and ‘Hindus for Trump’ are lobbying support for Trump. More targeted toward a ‘Hindu’ population, right wing groups within India such as the Hindu Sena approve of Trump whose daughter in-law recently attended a Diwali session at a Hindu temple in Virginia. Perhaps the most evident attempt by Trump to woo this bunch has come in the form of advertisement that picked up the slogan ‘Ab ki bar Trump Sarkar’ from Indian PM Narendra Modi’s slogan of the 2014 general elections in India.
Clinton is leading
Latest predictions from news houses such a FOX News, CNBC and Reuters/Ipsos have clearly put Clinton in the lead. However, with Trump’s cries of the elections being rigged and last-minute attempts to appeal to different sections of the voters, the elections remain exciting until the results are out.
Indians, both in the US and in India, are watching closely, to understand what potential changes in immigration policies and visa procedures could follow. Current employees in the country as well as prospective ones and current students are also awaiting the consequences that could follow after the election of Trump or Clinton, fearing that Trump might drastically change the current situation for the worse.