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Rep. Ro Khanna's tweet rejecting Hindutva splits the Indian American community

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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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 of the Organization for Minorities of India (OMI), an organization aimed at advancing individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and all Mulnivasi people of South Asia by encouraging secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity.

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 institutions are 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."


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 , 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.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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