Indian Americans favour Obama in presidential election

By Lalit K Jha, IANS,

Jersey City (New Jersey): With a shrinking income of his grocery store in Newark, the current economic crisis was on top of his mind when Nanu Patel went out to cast his vote for the US presidential election Tuesday morning.

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“I want the economy to improve, my income to increase and more new jobs,” Patel told IANS soon after he exercised his right to vote at a polling booth inside a city library near his home in Jersey City. Patel runs a grocery store in Newark, whose business, he said, has sharply come down in the last one year.

Without naming directly, Patel threw enough hints that he voted for Obama, as he blamed the Bush administration for the current economic mess. “Who else is responsible?” asked Patel.

“I want change,” said Patel, who originally hails from the western Indian State of Gujarat.

Reflecting the sentiments of Indian Americans, Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, the first Asian American to be elected to New Jersey Assembly, said the community is overwhelming supporting the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Chivukula, who was doing the rounds of his constituency and also the other Indian neighborhood in New Jersey, estimated that more than two-thirds of the Indian Americans are voting for Obama. New Jersey along with New York has one of the highest concentrations of Indian Americans in the US, the other regions being California, Chicago and Houston-Dallas.

“Many of the Indian Americans have already cast their vote using the provision of absentee ballot,” said Chivukula, a Democrat. A die-hard Clinton supporter, Chivukula canvassed in favor of Obama in New Jersey after Hillary Clinton withdrew from the race early this year and extended her support to Obama.

Still there are Indian Americans like Surinder Soti, who voted in favor of the Republican candidate, John McCain, because Hillary Clinton could not bag the Democratic ticket for the presidential elections.

“This is a onetime exception that I have voted for a Republican candidate,” Soti, a retired official from MTA, which runs New York City’s underground metro system, told IANS. In all the presidential elections, since he exercised his right to vote as a US citizen in 1994, Soti has supported Democratic candidates.

“But not this time,” Soti said, arguing that he would like the US troops to come back after winning the war in Iraq and not being withdrawn as has been said by Obama during his presidential campaign.

Though Soti might not be the only to have such a view, almost all the opinion polls so far have indicated that Indian Americans overwhelmingly support Obama as the next US president.

This is quite reflected in the latest opinion poll released by Bridging Nations, a Washington DC-based think tank. The informal poll carried out by Bridging Nations last week revealed that 81 percent of Indian Americans support Obama, while only 19 percent said that they would vote for John McCain and his vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin.