US Congressman Ro Khanna’s tweet rejecting Hindutva echoed at the Cupertino Town Hall meeting called by the congressman earlier this month.

Chinmoy Roy, a Khanna supporter who attended the Oct. 3 town hall meeting, told India-West that about 25 people stood outside, bearing placards reading: “Ro Khanna, Stand with Gandhi. Do not mix with bigots (alluding to Pieter Friedrich of the Organization for Minorities of India (OMI).” They told Chinmoy Roy they (protesters) belong to the HSS — Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh — and that Ro is against Hinduism.

On August 29, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted: “It’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhist & Christians. That is the vision of India my grandfather Amarnath Vidyalankar fought for.”

Congressman Ro Khanna was responding to an article by Pieter Friedrich. In his article, Freidrich pointed out that Tulsi Gabbard’s rise in U.S. politics is largely due to donations she received from American affiliates of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) — the parent organization of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The central beliefs of both institutionsare heavily derived from Hindutva — a form of Hindu nationalism that demands the assertion of India’s national identity as a Hindu state and calls for members of minority religions, such as Islam and Christianity, to reconfigure their beliefs to fit with Hindu culture.

In his tweet, Khanna noted the importance of the article and called on Hindu-American politicians to “reject Hindutva” and support and accept all religions. “I responded to one of his articles saying that I believe in pluralism,” Khanna said. “There were a few groups in the community who got offended by that. I have no tolerance for right wing nationalists who are affiliating with Trump. And let me tell you something — they’re in an echo chamber, but their bigotry, their right wing nationalism, their support for Trump or for white supremacy is a minority. But they will see that our district is pluralistic and I have no problem standing up against them.”

Sabrang

On September 5, Sabrang published an article titled: US Congressman Ro Khanna rejects Hindutva, speaks for Equal Rights of all Indians.

The history of India and the South Asian subcontinent is complex and diverse with a plethora of language, religion, ethnicity and caste. Indian democracy has been managing this complexity with mixed success since its independence from British colonial rule in 1947, the Subrang in part said adding:

“Despite being founded on constitutional and republican principles of equality and non-discrimination, the inroads of majoritarian politics have vitiated the political and public sphere: violence against minorities has often been a path to electoral success. Although there are many examples, the most recent and infamous are the 1984 Genocide of Sikhs in Delhi and the 2002 Gujarat Massacre of Muslims. Post 2014 and the election of a Hindu supremacist (read Hindutva) government in the saddle, fear and hatred against minorities has reached new dimensions. (See the US Commission on International Religious Freedom Reports for detail.) Modi’s political party (BJP) and its cultural counterpart organizations (RSS, VHP, etc.) form the backbone of the Hindutva movement.”

“Every institution of Indian democracy has been permeated by men and women who carry this majoritarian ideology. Progressive movements across South Asia have been mobilizing to ask the world for solidarity as they continue to bravely resist the volatile conditions in the region. The Hindutva right have been keenly set on a path to influence U.S. policy from within the American political system, which makes these recent elements noteworthy,” the Sabrang article concluded.

Petition For

Tellingly, two petitions were initiated at the www.change.org, about Rep. Khanna’s tweet. One thanks Khanna for rejecting Hindutva while the second denounced his rejection of Hindutva.

The Petition in support of Rep. Khanna in part said:

“As a Hindu-American congressional representative and progressive Democrat, Khanna should be applauded for speaking out against the religious nationalist political ideology of Hindutva which undergirds the fascist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) paramilitary and Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“Both the RSS and the BJP have repeatedly been implicated in acts of mass violence against minorities, as well as targeted violence against Hindus.

“Because he stood up for equality for all, Khanna is facing consistent attacks by advocates of extremism, especially US-based affiliates of the RSS and the BJP. His courage, his resolve, and his principles deserve not only a stirring round of applause, but support.” This petition had amassed 691 signatures as of Oct. 28.

Petition Against

The Petition against Rep. Khanna in part said:

“Congressman Ro Khanna will have to choose between addressing the concerns of a community that has supported him extensively or supporting racist bigots like Friedrich and OFMI. And if Mr. Khanna indeed wishes to stand with the community, it is important that he publicly and unequivocally apologize and distance himself from the racist bigots that have consistently encouraged hatred and violence.

“He should also take concrete actions to forcefully address Pakistan’s use of terrorism and violence to undermine peace and stability in India and in the rest of the world, instead of just making meaningless statements in the media.

“Congressman Khanna should demonstrate that he stands for the values of equality and non-discrimination and that he will not sacrifice these values at the altar of political expediency.”

This petition had amassed 2270 signatures as of Oct. 28.

Interestingly, Khanna told India-West that he supports a pluralistic vision of peace and his vision is supported by the Indian American community he represents.

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com


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