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It is a total honour to be a part of the United States Congress, but when you carry an Indian name and belong to a different religion - the path becomes quite rough. However, Hawaii-born Tulsi Gabbard, the first Samoan American and the first Hindu member of the US Congress, has been chosen as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 United States presidential election.
This unprecedented occurrence did not go down well with her opponents. Gabbard and her supporters were accused of promoting Hindu nationalism during campaigning. The 37-year-old, recently, hit back at them by saying, "I am proud to be the first Hindu-American to run for president."
Her meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was brought to the limelight in an attempt to mud-sling. "My meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India's democratically elected leader, have been highlighted as 'proof' of this and portrayed as somehow being out of the ordinary or somehow suspect, even though President Obama, Secretary Clinton, President Trump and many of my colleagues in Congress have met with and worked with him," she said in her defence.
The Republican opponents even went on to the extent of saying that a vote for her would be considered as a vote for the devil, due to her religion. Nevertheless, the four-term Democratic senator handled it gracefully.
"And while the headlines covering my announcement could have celebrated this historic first, maybe even informed Americans at large about the world's third-largest religion, some have instead fomented suspicion, fear and religious bigotry about not only me but also my supporters," this US military veteran explained.
Born in a multi-cultural and multi-religious household, Gabbard chose Hinduism as her religion during her early teens. She was home-schooled through high school and attained a Bachelor of Science Degree in business administration from Hawaii Pacific University. At the age of 21, she was elected to the Hawaii State Legislature in 2002 and was the youngest woman to be elected to a US State Legislature.
She also joined the Hawaii Army National Guard and later served two tours of duty in the Middle East, continuing her service as a Major in the Army National Guard. She voluntarily stepped down from her public office duties to serve in a war zone. In 2012, Gabbard was elected to the United States House of Representatives, serving Hawaii's 2nd district. She also created a record by being one of the first two female combat veterans to serve in the US Congress.
We must bend the arc of history away from war & toward peace, prosperity, opportunity, & justice for all. I will take the $ now WASTED on regime change wars, new cold war & nuclear war, & invest in:— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) June 11, 2019
✅Medicare for all
✅& more pic.twitter.com/Ol4ZL4woWz
Gabbard has always been an advocate for environmental policy, veteran welfare and a sustainable economy that will benefit all kinds of families. While we root for her success, it will be fascinating to see how this rebellious congresswoman achieves her goal of making healthcare and quality education accessible for people from all walks of life.