New Delhi: Aside from the much-anticipated presidential elections in November, the US will also witness elections to the House of Representatives, the lower house of the US Congress, and this year an Indian-American is contesting the elections from a district in Virginia, for the first-time ever.
Andhra Pradesh-born Republican candidate Manga Anantatmula announced her election bid from the 11th Congressional District of Virginia in January this year and if she wins, she will join five other Indian-Americans in the US Congress and will be the only Republican Indian-American.
Every two years, members of the lower house of US Congress, the House of Representatives, are up for re-election along with one-third of the members in the upper house, the Senate.
Apart from Democrat vice-president candidate Kamala Harris in the Senate, there are currently four House Representatives of Indian descent. Ami Bera from California’s 7th congressional district, Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois’s 8th congressional district, Ro Khanna from California’s 17th congressional district and Pramila Jayapal from Washington’s 7th congressional district, who is also the first-ever Indian-American woman to be elected to the House of Representatives.
ThePrint takes a look at Anantatmula’s political track record and her immigration story.
Immigrated for the American dream
Born in Andhra Pradesh, Anantatmula did her early schooling in Chennai and then graduated from Agra University, now known as Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar University. She immigrated to the US about 30 years ago, along with her husband and son, and went on to work as a federal government contractor in defence acquisitions programme management.
In January, Anantatmula filed her nominations to run for US Congress from the 11th Congressional district of Virginia.
She moved away from the Democratic party and joined the Republicans in 2016 after the presidential elections. This is the first time Anantmula is running for office.
“I walked away from the Democratic party due to constant bullying and abuses for exercising my constitutional right and voting for President Trump,” she told ThePrint.
The district has a sizeable 17 per cent Asian population, including an estimated 7 per cent Indian-Americans.
“Leaving behind an affluent life in India, my little boy and I accompanied my husband to the US in early 1990s in pursuit of his graduate and doctoral degrees, an American dream. We chose Northern Virginia as our new home for its school system and standard of living, and lived in Fairfax County,” she had said while filing her papers for the election.
She first gained prominence in the district after speaking out against alleged discrimination in the admission of Asians in Ivy League schools. She has also promised to lower national debt if elected to Congress.
“Every president since Franklin Roosevelt has added to the national debt. Many Americans see the addition of national debt with each administration and want to see it reversed. And the current pandemic is adding trillions more. If elected, I will work with others in Congress to lower the national debt,” states her campaign website.
Support for CAA and Article 370
Anantatmula had also backed the Modi government’s decision to scrap Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir in August last year and criticised Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s views on the issue.
“@JoeBiden drop ur ugly mask, breath fresh & do some HW on Kashmir issue. A370 was a temporary provision during partition. It excluded the entire Indian population from owning any property and women had no civil rights,” she had tweeted in June.
@JoeBiden drop ur ugly mask, breath fresh & do some HW on Kashmir issue. A370 was a temporary provision during partition. It excluded the entire Indian population from owning any property and women had no civil rights. NRC is SSN. @DrShayPhD @Mrs_Malindo any idea to educate Joe🤦♀️ pic.twitter.com/Fjx0Fgnu1r
— Manga Anantatmula for Congress (R/VA-11) (@Manga4Congress) June 26, 2020
She had similarly hit out at Kamala Harris over her remarks on the scrapping of Article 370.
In December last year, she supported the Citizenship Amendment Act arguing that Muslims in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh will be denied citizenship in India as “they are not persecuted like christians, Hindus, Sikhs, budhists, & Parsis”(sic).
In the past, she has criticised Pramila Jayapal over tabling a resolution on Kashmir in the Congress. She said the resolution caused “dismay” in the community.
The district Anantatmula is seeking election in, however, has long been a Democratic stronghold and she is up against six-term incumbent Congressman Gerry Connolly. Two weeks ago, while requesting donations for her campaign in a Facebook post, she called Connolly a “lying machine”.
This report has been updated with additional information and a quote by Manga Anantatmula.
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