Tulsi Gabbard's Connection to Hindu Nationalists Raises Concern

Lorie Shaull is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Tulsi Gabbard’s opponents have attacked her ties with Hindutva organizations.


On January 11, Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat elected from Hawaii, announced she is running for the United States presidency in 2020. The 37-year-old has already made her mark in history, being the first Hindu elected to Congress. The American liberal media has voiced its appreciation on several aspects, such as her 2016 support to Bernie Sanders. This does not mean she gets a free pass: many political observers have pointed out her use of the term “radical Islam” when describing terrorism in the Middle East. Some analysts believe her use legitimizes the claim of terrorists to Islam. Now Gabbard is under scrutiny for being close to Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister who himself leads the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Gabbard, a seasoned politician, is quick to deny any claims that she is a Hindu nationalist. The Congresswoman from Hawaii wrote an op-ed for Religion News Service (RNS) on January 26 majorly focusing on dissing what she calls a campaign against her and those who support her cause. She said her opponents have profiled and targeted Hindu-Americans and ascribed them motives which have no basis.

The article highlights some points which Gabbard’s opponents have used against her. She pointed out that Modi is an elected Prime Minister and many other American leaders like former President Obama, President Trump, and former Secretary Clinton have met the Indian leader and even worked with him.

The focus against her has willfully promoted religious bigotry, fear, and suspicion. As Gabbard fine-tunes her preparations for the presidential race in February, questions have been raised on the $1 million dollars in contributions made to her campaign from multiple Hindu nationalist donors. It is clear the Hawaiian presidential hopeful has now realized how complex Hinduism-related politics can be.

Gabbard consented to be the chairperson of World Hindu Congress, a Hindutva leaning organization. Hindutva is militant Hinduism, which as per devout Hindus is as far from the religion as possible. Only after a political outcry by progressive Hindus has she distanced herself from the organization.

Resources
  • The Hindu
  • Religion News Service -Tulsi Gabbard’s 2020 bid raises questions about Hindu political ties
  • wroteReligion News Service -Tulsi Gabbard: Religious bigotry is un-American
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