US Politics
Kamala Harris was elected to the Senate, while Pramila Jayapal and Raja Krishnamoorthi were elected to Congress.

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris made history on Tuesday, by becoming the first Indian American to be elected to the US Senate.

She had defeated her fellow-Democrat Loretta Sanchez in California to also become the first Indian American woman to be elected to the Congress.

"Winning of Kamala Harris is another feather in the cap for the Indian American community," Thomas Abraham, Chairman, Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, told IANS. 

"Winning Senatorial seat combined with several congressional victories has made the community somewhat reach its goal of political involvement," he added.

This will also help the US and India to come closer as a global partner in trade, investment, education, science and technology, military cooperation and in fighting terrorism.

Senators are elected by the entire electorate in their states.

A victory is significant because California is the most populous state in the nation with 18 million voters.

Harris, 52, who traces her family roots to Chennai, is a lawyer by profession and was twice elected Attorney General in 2010 and 2014.

Harris has a dual identity: She is also counted as an African American as her father is a Jamaican of African descent and she follows the Baptist faith.

She would become the second American woman of African descent elected to the Senate and she joins two other African Americans in the Senate.

After her parents divorced, Harris was raised by her mother Shyamals Gopalan, a cancer specialist from Chennai, giving her equal claim to Indian heritage.

She is married to fellow lawyer Douglas Emhoff.

Harris succeeds Democrat Barbara Boxer, a Democrat who is retiring.

The first Indian elected to Congress was Dalip Singh Saund, who won from California in 1956.

Raja Krishnamoorthi

Meanwhile, Raja Krishnamoorthi won a seat in the House of Representatives from Ilinois on Tuesday, becoming the fourth Indian American elected to Congress.

Democrat Krishnamoorthi was elected from the Illinois Eighth Congressional District that covers some of the suburbs around Chicago.

He defeated Republican Peter DiCianni in the traditionally Democratic constituency.

The 43-year-old Krishnamoorthi represents the class of upcoming young political leaders. At the Democratic Party Convention in July, the party leadership presented him as a "New Leader of Tomorrow".

President Barack Obama gave him a strong endorsement and recorded a video urging voters to elect his "good friend", who helped him "develop ideas for building an economy that works for everyone".

Krishnamoorthi follows Dalip Singh Saund, Bobby Jindal elected in 2004 and Ami Bera in 2014.

Born in New Delhi, he is a lawyer by profession and has served as a state assistant attorney general on a special assignment to fight corruption and as a state deputy treasurer.

He has since become a technology entrepreneur heading two companies.

Krishnamoorthi has a mechanical engineering degree from Princeton University and a law degree from Harvard.

In an interview with IANS at the party convention, he joked that he probably had a "mutant gene" that made him turn to politics in a community that focuses on careers in medicine, technology and education.

He said his family was in "dire economic straits" and had a difficult time when he was a baby, but the "generosity" of the US helped them come out of it.

"Ever since then, I have been wanting to make sure that others have a shot at the American dream" like his family, he said.

His father is a professor of engineering at Bradley University in Peoria.

Krishnamoorthi is married to a doctor, Priya, and they have two sons and a daughter.

Pramila Jayapal

India-born Pramila Jayapal was reportedly elected to the US House in Washington.

She was facing off against another Democrat, Brady Pinero Walkingshaw in a race for an open seat in Washington's 7th Congressional District. The seat was opened up following the retirement of Jim McDermott, who had represented the district.

The 51-year-old was endorsed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders earlier this year.

"I'm running for Congress because now is the time for a bold progressive fighter," Jayapal had said when she launched her campaign in January this year.

 

Inputs IANS, Arul Louis