Congressman Ami Bera represents the 7th district of California, which includes Sacramento. It is apt that the only sitting Congressman of Indian origin be from a state that has a high population of Indians. Bera, who is seeking a second term, says these elections are historic from the diaspora's viewpoint. Excerpts:
This election is seeing several Indian origin candidates with good chances of winning. We should see more than one Indian face in the Congress, right?
I’m working hard to get re-elected. Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois is having an easy campaign. Pramila Jayapal from Seattle is running a tough race but is in a good place. Kamla Harris (half Indian, half Jamaican) is likely to get elected to the Senate. From the point of the diaspora, this will be a historic election.
You think a strong contingent of minority representation could reduce the polarisation in the country?
When there is more diversity in the Congress, you can push back rhetoric like Trump’s. That is why it is important for people to participate in these elections. This time, diversity is not just with ethnicity, we may also get the first female Indian American in the Congress. It is amazing.
Has Donald Trump split the Indian American vote?
His message does not have resonance with our values as Indian Americans. It is a young community, and diversity makes us strong, not just in India but in America, too. The entire Asian community, not just Indians, rejects Trump.
How much will the Congress and Senate change in colour post election?
Hillary will be president. Democrats will be able to get back a small majority in the Senate and improve their numbers in the Congress by around 20.
What will be the new president’s first big challenge?
To bring the country together after these divisive elections. The Republicans and Democrats will have to start to negotiate. We need a normal Republican party. Trump is so out of mainstream.
You accompanied President Obama on his trip to India. How do you see yourself in enhancing Indo-US ties?
I will continue to be the co-chair of the Indo-US caucus. The diaspora will have a bigger role in Indo-US ties. We will take forward the momentum of the Obama government to the Clinton administration. It is not just the elected representatives, but people like Rich Verma [US ambassador to India] and Nisha Biswal [assistant secretary of state], who are key members of the government, who help strengthen ties between the oldest and biggest democracies.