Tough fight, predicts man who coined ‘Ab ki baar Trump sarkar’ slogan
If it was not Covid-19, he would have a landslide.” Shalabh Kumar’s statement gives away the fact that he is not certain how President Donald Trump will fare when the United States votes on November 3.
That is significant because Kumar is the man who gave America, or American-Indians to be precise, the slogan ‘Ab ki baar Trump sarkar’, which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi famously used at the ‘Howdy, Modi’ event in Houston last year.
“It is going to be a very tight election,” the 71-year-old self-confessed Trump and Modi fan tells indianexpress.com on a video call from his Chicago home.
He blames it all on the pandemic, and says had Covid-19 not happened, “the economy would have been in top shape. The stock market would have been in top shape. Everyone’s 401Ks would’ve been up there. Unemployment would have been the lowest in history.”
Chief executive of the AVG Group, a cluster of electronics companies, and the founder of the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC), Kumar is categorical about one thing:
“There has never been any president better than Trump for the economic prosperity of the country”. The RHC he founded in 2015 is meant to be “the unique bridge between the Hindu-American community and Republican policymakers and leaders”.
The group is specifically named the Republican Hindu Coalition, Kumar says, to further distinguish itself from other Indian-American Republicans in the country.
“We are Republican Hindu Coalition, so we talk much more about the Hindu Americans which is also what you would call Dharmic Hindus. That includes Jains and Sikhs and Buddhists and so forth. So all Dharmic religions which came out of India.”
Incidentally, it was at a fundraiser organized by the RHC in Edison, New Jersey that Trump said: “I am a big fan of Hindu, and I am a big fan of India.” The next day, photographs of Trump lighting diyas on stage, flanked by Kumar and his daughter were splashed across newspapers in the United States.
Trump has his reasons for wooing the Indian-Americans. In their book ‘The Other One Percent: Indians in America’, authors Nirvikar Singh, Sanjoy Chakravorty, and Devesh Kapur explain that historically, Indian-Americans have always voted Democrat, despite two characteristics—those of higher income and social conservativeness—that should have typically made then more inclined towards the Republican Party.
The authors point to a 2012 Pew survey where only 18 percent of Indian-Americans identified themselves as Republican voters or leaned towards the party.
Four years ago, Kumar says, “people were afraid to come out and say they support Trump but in 2020 people are just proud of being Trump supporters”.
In contrast with issues like immigration policies that are of concern to the wider Indian-American community, Hindu Americans are more interested in the economic impact of the elections.
“One out of the Hindu Americans is a businessman, so even though we don’t talk about that much it’s a given. Strong economic growth, lower taxes, and a huge success in the stock market… are very important to Hindu Americans.”
Kumar recalls his first meeting with Trump in July 2015, months before the RHC was officially launched. “I saw in him, a man who was more of a businessman than a politician.”
News Desk, Ne India News