Houston /Texas (US) : The decision by Emgage Political Action Committee to refrain from endorsing a candidate in the contest for Texas’s 22nd Congressional District is drawing applause as the the Democratic candidate, Sri Preston Kulkarni, has faced allegations that his campaign is strongly backed by US affiliates of India’s Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu ultranationalist paramilitary .
“The Alliance to Save and Protect America from Infiltration by Religious Extremists (ASPAIRE) welcomes the decision by Emgage to not endorse Kulkarni’s second bid for election to TX-22,” said Masood Rab, National Co-Chair of the group and President of Coalition of Americans for Pluralism in India, which recently enabled a US city resolution against India’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens. Rab pointed to the involvement of Ramesh Bhutada, Vice-President of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA (an international wing of the RSS) in Kulkarni’s campaign as a key reason why ASPAIRE is concerned about the candidate’s political aspirations. In 2018, Kulkarni named Bhutada as someone without whom his campaign “literally could not have happened.” Kulkarni further claimed that Bhutada had become “like a father to me” on the campaign trail.
“Emgage endorsed Kulkarni during his run for the same seat two years ago, which he lost,” said Dr. Shaik Ubaid, National Co-Chair of ASPAIRE and the founder of IMC-USA. “The group was expected to endorse him again. We are delighted to know that Emgage is actively confronting the infiltration of America by ultranationalist and supremacist ideologies. ASPAIRE is willing to work with Emgage during its vetting process of candidates and hope that they will consider the RSS affiliations of other politicians such as Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi.”
“Sri Preston Kulkarni, was endorsed by Emgage-TX PAC in 2018 because of his significant outreach to the Muslim community in TX-22,” the group, which describes itself as a political home for American Muslims, said in its statement of non-endorsement. “ Since then, Emgage has discovered that some of Kulkarni’s largest donors and closest supporters are leaders of organizations promoting Hindutva. This far-right ideology, whose early founders openly praised Nazism, is completely antithetical to the inclusive and pluralistic values espoused by Emgage. During the Emgage endorsement interview, Kulkarni stated that he has no connection to any foreign ideology. However, he was unwilling to publicly condemn Hindutva-inspired organizations such as RSS, HSS, and BJP, or repudiate his donors linked to these organizations. Moreover, he refused to denounce, as Joe Biden has done, the mass atrocities committed by the BJP-led Modi government in India against the Muslim minority population, including the passage of the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA), the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and the abrogation of statehood for Kashmir.”