Tulsi Gabbard wins Democratic primary in Hawaii
Washington: Hindu-American Tulsi Gabbard has won the Democratic party primary for the US Congress from Hawaii, with her nearest rival conceding defeat.
Since this is a strong Democratic Party seat, her victory in the November Congressional elections is said to be a certain, which will make her the first Hindu American ever to be a member of the US House of Representatives.
In her victory speech in Honolulu, Gabbard, 31, thanked her supporters.
"I am privileged to be able to work for the people of Hawaii in whatever capacity," Gabbard said after her rival Mufi Hannemann conceded defeat.
Notably Hannemann started the race with a huge poll margin of more than 40 per cent and Gabbard trailing far behind. With all the votes counted for the US House District 2 Seat from Hawaii, Gabbard got 55.1 per cent of the votes while, Hannemann received 34.3 per cent.
Gabbard`s victory brought in instant jubilation among the Hindus across the United States.
"Hindus in America will have voice in Congress. All major faiths have representatives in congress with the exception of Hinduism," said Vijay Pallod, a Hindu activist from Texas.
Dalip Singh Saund, the first Indian-American elected to the House of Representatives in 1950s was a Sikh, while Bobby Jindal the second Indian-American to make it to the House of Representatives had converted to Christianity.
Proud of her Hindu religion, she is not Indian or of Indian heritage. Her father Mike Gabbard, is currently Hawaii State Senator and mother Carol Porter Gabbard is a educator and business owner.
Currently a Company Commander with the Hawaii Army National Guard, who has volunteered to serve on two deployments to the Middle East, Gabbard served as Hawaii`s youngest state representative in 2002 and is the youngest woman in the USA to be elected into such a position.
Having never visited India so far, Tulsi says she is looking to make her first trip to India as an elected member of the House of Representatives.
"As a Vaishnava, I especially look forward to visiting the holy sites of Vrindavan," she said.
According to her bio provided by her campaign, Tulsi`s spiritual lineage is the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya.
The number of Hindus living in Hawaii is relatively small, with only two Hindu temples in the entire state, the Iskcon Temple on Oahu and the Aadheenam Temple on Kauai.
Her religion, Tulsi said is not an issue for the election, neither it has been a negative factor in her electoral campaign, she noted.
Tulsi was born in 1981 in Leloaloa, American Samoa, the fourth of five children born to a Hindu mother and a Christian (Catholic) father.
At the age of two, the family moved to Hawaii, the 50th state of the US, also known as the `Aloha State`; which is also the birth place of US President Barack Obama.
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