Campaigning for the US Presidential elections has reached fever pitch, with even India’s film fraternity stepping into the fray. Next week, seven well known Bollywood and South Indian actors will be performing at a mega concert in New Jersey, a state in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States, to boost the electoral fortunes of Republican presidential candidate, Donald John Trump.
The organisers—the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC)—said that Trump will deliver a keynote address at the event. He will then dance to the tunes of Sophie Chaudhary and Prabhu Deva, along with heartthrobs Malaika Arora Khan, Mansavi Mamgai and Shriya Saran. Others, to reach out to the Indian community to enlist support for Trump, will be South Indian actors Akhil Akkineni and Ram Charan. The organisers said that the proceeds from the event, a first of its kind, will then be shared between the Kashmiri Pandits, Bangladeshi Hindus and other terror victims in the recent past.
Vice-chairman of Trump’s campaign committee and Indian-American tycoon Shalbh Shali Kumar, admitted that the majority of two million Indian origin voters were apprehensive of the Republican presidential candidate.
However, he dismissed this apprehension as a “communication gap.” Kumar, who is also the chairman of the RHC—which has been modelled on the lines of Republican Jewish Coalition—lobbies to bring Hindus living in the US together to “safeguard their rights and influence policy decisions.”
Born in Amritsar, Kumar is the son of a civil servant who went to the US to study at the Illinois Institute of Technology, in 1969. Kumar, who is incidentally a billionaire like Trump, is an ardent supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and had even arranged for a delegation of US law makers to visit him when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. This visit was a bid to help end Modi’s isolation, as the US Administration then had repeatedly denied him a visa.
As far as Trump was concerned, Kumar, who is based in Chicago, and owner of an electronics manufacturing company, has contributed $898,800 towards Trump’s victory campaign. Allaying fears about Trump, he said Trump’s era will turn the 21st century into an Indo-American era rather a Sino-American century. “If the Democrats prevail, we will go down a wrong path. China will become stronger and continue lending money and influence,” he said.
Kumar promised that various pending India-specific legislations would also see the light of day in a Trump era. “You will be surprised to know that the US statute still treats India as an ally of the Russians, thereby putting restrictions on procurement of advanced military technology and equipment. We will overturn that,” he said.
Rejecting the impression that Trump was anti-immigrant, the campaign manager said the Republican candidate was a businessman and keen to employ legal and skilful immigrants. He revealed that Trump and his team would amend the citizenship law to make it easier for I.5 million Indian Americans who have got green cards to become citizens. Currently, he said, the waiting period for full citizenship can stretch to as long as 50-70 years.
Asked if Prime Minister Modi would help Trump to garner votes, Kumar said that no foreign government should interfere in the democratic process of another country. He added that though he (Kumar) had the support of a majority of the Oversees Friends of BJP, a large chunk of them were also plagued with an “information gap” regarding Trump.