Indian-American businessman and community leader Puneet Ahluwalia, who is running for the powerful office of the Virginia Lieutenant Governor, is seeking to bring diversity in the country’s political landscape at a time when there is a sudden national surge in violence against the Asian-American community.
The Republican Party is slated to pick its nominee for the Lieutenant Governor at a hybrid convention on May 8.
“I came to this country with almost nothing, built a business, married a wonderful woman who also immigrated, and raised a beautiful family,” Ahluwalia told PTI ahead of the convention.
“Nadia (his wife who is an Afghan-American) and I have had our struggles along the way – as every family does. And, like most people of colour, we’ve occasionally faced bias and prejudice, but we’ve never lost sight of the blessings we’ve enjoyed by being citizens of this wonderful country,” Ahluwalia said.
Over the past several months, he and his team of volunteers have been crisscrossing the entire state of Virginia campaigning on his platform to create jobs and economic book of Virginia.
“Now, I’m running for Lieutenant Governor. One reason is because I want to help every American share in the opportunity and blessing of America – no matter the colour of their skin, the language they speak, or the country where they were born,” he said.
A successful businessman, Ahluwalia has been with the Republican Party for 20 years.
“I’m convinced our economic wellbeing and the future of our families depends on upholding the fairness and freedom that America stands for when it stands at its best. We are a country of law and order,” he said.
He noted that his party has not been able to reach out to other ethnic and religious minorities in the state.
“The tone matters. The conditioning matters. It’s a matter of reaching out to them. This is not a matter of policy,” he said, adding that the Republican Party’s policy perfectly fits with the immigrant community, the ethnic communities like Asian-Americans.
Ahluwalia said there has been a great support to his candidacy not only from the rural Virginia, but also from the ethnic communities, be it the Indian-Americans, Afghan-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans or Korean-Americans.
During his campaigning, Ahluwalia said he finds that there has been an outpouring of support.
“It was only a matter that we have not reached out to them earlier. There is a need for our leadership to engage with them,” he added.
More than 3,000 incidents of abuse against Asian Americans were reported between March and December 2020, according to Asian American advocacy groups. There were only 216 reported cases in 2019, according to FBI statistics.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)