Washington: Ahead of mid-term polls in November, political parties in the US state of Virginia are trying to woo Indian Americans as their increasingly swelling number can play a key role in deciding the election results.
At a time when the voting percentage in mid-term elections is coming down, the Indian American community, whose number has increased significantly in recent years, can make a big impact by coming out to vote in large number and deciding the winner, said Delegate David Reid.
Seeking a re-election from the Virginia Assembly District 32, Reid urged Indian-American to be politically active.
The population of Indian Americans in the Virginia suburb of Washington DC has increased significantly in the past one decade. In 2010, there were more than 100,000 Indian Americans in Virginia, an increase of 112 per cent since 2000.
However, there has been a substantial surge in the Indian American population. Neighbourhoods like Ashburn in Loudon County in the last few years have emerged as Little India.
Nearly a dozen political leaders, delegates and those running for various elected offices this November turned up at an event organised by Indian American Forum for Political Education (IAFPE) in the Ashburn suburb of Washington DC on Sunday.
"This is a recognition of the increasing presence of Indian Americans in Virginia," said Satish Korpe, a member of the IAFPE.
Observing that the community has "not been that active or that involved" in the past, Delegate Mark Keam called for increasing the presence of Indian Americans and other Asian groups in politics.
"We have to make change in the country where we live. We have to have representation," he said. Until the community has people who represent them directly, they need to elect people who can make policies favourable for them.
A former State Department official Alison Friedman, running for Congress from Virginia, said she is inspired by the two school girls she met in a remote Bihar village where she visited in her role as an American diplomat. "First time I went outside of US is India. I went to a school in Bihar where people were studying under the tree," she said.
"Make sure that your rights are secure in America. Who we are in the government, not only impacts your community, but also the entire world.
If they can do it in Bihar, we can do it here," said Friedman, who is seeking to unseat Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock from the 10th Congressional District of Virginia.
Bharat Bhargava, a former Bush Administration official, said that Indian Americans have come a long way and have accomplished a lot in various parts of life, but there is need to increase their presence in politics. Indian American Sant Gupta, past president of local Durga Temple, said that Indian Americans need to actively participate in the general elections.
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, who was vice-presidential candidate for the 2016 presidential elections, sent a lengthy video message for the event in which he praised the contribution of Indian Americans in the country and the State. Kaine, an influential Democratic Senator is seeking re-election in the November polls.