Finding Indian Americans inclined to the Republican party not easy: Puneet Ahluwalia

4 Indian Americans in GOP’s minority outreach councils.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: In an effort to expand its outreach into minority groups across the nation, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has launched three National Advisory Councils (NACs) to concentrate efforts in promoting engagement with three key demographics: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Pacific Americans.

Each of the three NACs is comprised of high-level Republican leaders from across the country. The Asian Pacific American Advisory Council has four Indian Americans in its 31 members: Puneet Ahluwalia of Virginia, Suhail Khan of Washington, DC, Ajay Kuntamukkala of Maryland, and KV Kumar of California.

Ahluwalia is the finance chairman for the Fairfax County Republican Committee (FCRC), located in northern Virginia only miles from the nation’s capital.

In an interview with The American Bazaar, Ahluwalia said “until now, there was never really a dedicated portion of the party for Asian Americans.”

He added: “Asian Americans are the fastest-growing minority in the US, and Indian Americans are the leading [that] pack. After the 2012 elections, we realized it was time to dedicate efforts to reaching minority groups around the country, and as a full-time political strategist and consultant, I wanted to reach out to Asian and Indian Americans.”

Ahluwalia explained that finding supportive Indian Americans was not as easy as it might sound, as the majority of desis in the US are “democratically inclined.” Now that the NAC has been formed, Ahluwalia said that its primary function will be to help influence policies to favor the interests of the Asian Pacific American community, and to get involved with functions and events at the community level to build up interest and support for the GOP.

The other Indian Americans on the Asian Pacific American NAC have lots of experience in the legal and political spheres.

Khan is currently the Senior Fellow for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the Institute for Global Engagement, and is also the Director of External Affairs at Microsoft Corporation.

Kuntamukkala is a DC-based attorney and partner at the law firm of Hogan Lovells, who “assists clients with a range of regulatory and policy matters involving international trade and national security, including export controls, economic sanctions, defense trade, international trade policy, and antibribery matters.”

Kumar is a lawyer by trade, and is the state-wide chairman of the Indian American Republicans of California (IARCA) organization as well as the president and CEO of the US India Foundation. He has worked in the White House, under appointment, for four US Presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

The NACs will be responsible for creating grassroots campaigns to engage local ethnic communities and drum up support for the GOP, which has traditionally struggled securing minority votes over the past several elections. As the Republican Party attempts to take over Congress during the upcoming midterm elections, it’s a hugely critical time for them, and no stone is being left unturned.

“I want to ensure the Republican Party is building sincere relationships in every community across the country, and our advisory councils will help make that a reality,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement. “They are all leaders in their communities, and each council member brings a unique perspective. I look forward to working with them to grow the Republican Party.”

The full list of leaders in the National African American, Hispanic American, and Asian Pacific American Advisory Councils can be found here.

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