Tulsi Gabbard set to become first Hindu in US Congress

Aug 13, 2012, 10:00 IST | Arun Kumar

Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard has a great chance to become the first Hindu member of the US House of Representatives in 2013 with her primary victory in a safe Democratic seat.

Though a practicing Hindu and a strict vegetarian, Gabbard is not of Indian origin. Her father Mike Gabbard, who is a state senator, is from American Samoa. Her mother Carol Porter Gabbard, a white American, is a practicing Hindu. Her father is a Catholic.

Gabbard, 31, won the Democratic Party nomination in Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District Sunday with a decisive 55 percent vote in the primary with closest rival former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann getting 34 percent.

Four other candidates divided the remainder of the vote. Democratic Representative Mazie Hirono left the seat open when she decided to run for the Senate.

Born in 1981 in Leloaloa, American Samoa, she the fourth of five Gabbard children. When she was two, the family moved to Hawai'i, also the birthplace of President Barack Obama.

Dalip Singh Saund, the first Indian-American to be elected to the US in 1956, was a Sikh. Current Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal who became the second in 2004 had converted to Christianity while in high school.

Though not of Indian origin, Gabbard promises to be a representative for all the Indians in the US.

"Based on my strong affinity for India and Indian culture, as well as my warm love for the country and its people, I will always make myself available to hear the concerns of the Indian Diaspora and do my best to be of assistance," she said.

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