By Arul Louis
New York– Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to the US Congress, has announced she will not be running for re-election next year.
Gabbard, who is seeking the Democratic Party nomination to run for President next year, said that she was dropping het re-election bid because she is preparing to “to walk into the Oval Office”.
Her presidential campaign has failed to make much headway and her support in polls has not exceeded three per cent.
Gabbard, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2012 from a constituency in Hawaii, is not of Indian descent, but a practising Hindu and took her oath of office on a Bhagavad Gita. Ethnically she is a Samoan, which is a Pacific Island group.
She came under attack last week from Hillary Clinton, who called her “a favourite of the Russians” and alleged they were grooming her to be a third party candidate in next year’s election.
Gabbard hit back, calling Clinton “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long”.
Gabbard has been at odds with the party leadership and resigned as the Democratic National Committee’s vice chair in 2016 alleging that the leaders were being partisan towards Clinton, who was defeated by President Donald Trump that year.
A serving major in the Army National Guard, which is similar to India’s Territorial Army but with more active deployments, Gabbard is a veteran of the Iraq war and her combat experience has made her an opponent of US military action abroad.
This has brought criticism against her from her own party.
She has said that the US should stop engaging in “regime change warsa to topple foreign leaders it does not like.
In the middle of her campaign, she was called up for active duty in August and deployed on a mission in Indonesia.
In her announcement that she is not seeking re-election, Gabbard referred to the Hawaiian word, “Aloha”, which besides being a greeting, also stands for peace and love in the native Hawaiian tradition.
She said: “Washington, our country, and the world is in dire need of aloha. … Only aloha has the power to bring our nation together a” recognizing we are all God’s children, and we are all Americans.”
Asking for support for her presidential bid, she said: “As President, I will lead with aloha – putting people ahead of profits, putting people ahead of politics, putting the wellbeing of our people and our planet above all else.”
Gabbard has also been criticised by some as a “Hindu nationalist” for meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
She has denounced the criticism as a sign of religious bigotry as those making it have singled her out and not made similar accusation against non-Hindus meeting Modi.
Gabbard has also been attacked by the media.
The New York Times that often reflects the views of the Democratic Party establishment recently published an attack on Gabbard trying to link her to “white nationalists and Russians” and the right.
Gabbard has disowned support from white nationalists.
The newspaper also criticised her for saying that the party leadership was trying to rig the 2020 election.
A commentator for CNN, which is owned by the telephone and telecommunications giant AT&T, called her “a puppet for the Russian government”, shortly before the debate of Democrat candidates hosted by the channel and the Times.
Gabbard called their campaign against her “despicable” and said: “New York Times and CNN have also smeared veterans like myself for calling for an end to this regime change war.” (IANS)