Republican candidate Bobby Jindal: 'My victory sign of US' openness'


Republican candidate Bobby Jindal, who made history on November 2 by becoming the first Indian American to be elected to the US Congress in nearly 50 years, has said he hopes to further solidify US-India relations.

In an exclusive interview on Thursday with Voice of America, Jindal said: "I absolutely think it makes sense for America and India to improve and strengthen their relationship."

Jindal also said that his success reflected the absolute strength of America and the opportunities it provides for immigrants.

On US-India relations, Jindal said: "We are talking about two large democracies with open markets. You are talking about India being a natural ally in the war against international terrorism, a great example in South Asia that serves as an example for peaceful regimes. So I think the opportunities for the two countries to work together are wonderful."

"I intend certainly, I encourage this administration or any president, to make a visit to India to continue to build our relationship. I think it is very important whether the administration is Democrat or Republican. I think the two countries share many common interests."

Describing America, Jindal said: "This is a country of opportunities where people are judged on their ability and their performance. I think that is very important. What makes the American system so successful is the fact that immigrants and their children born here can get ahead, can do very well, just do hard work."

Jindal said it was a plus point to be entering the US Congress in the wake of elections that gave President George W Bush a second term and his own Republican Party even greater majority in both houses.

Jindal, a former Bush administration appointee, lost a close election for governor of Louisiana last year. This time, he trounced his opponents and won 78 percent of the vote from a district in New Orleans, Louisiana.

His election is the first for an Indian American since 1956, when Dalip Singh Saund won a seat in Congress from California.

He said he owes his landslide victory to voters of his constituency, campaign volunteers of the Republican Party, his hard work and above all to this country of opportunities.

Jindal said: "I certainly hope many more Indian Americans come after me and work in appointed and elected positions. I think we are a large diverse community that has a lot to offer, and it makes sense that as many people as possible do participate."

A Brown University graduate and a Rhodes scholar, Jindal was credited with slashing Louisiana state system's multi-million dollar budget deficit and steering it towards a surplus. In 2001, he was appointed by President Bush as Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation for the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Jindal said that one of his priorities is to work on health care. "I would like to get involved in helping to lower the cost of healthcare for working families, for retirees and to improve our quality while also increasing the affordability."

Jindal, who was born in the US after his parents emigrated from India to settle down in Louisiana in the late 1960s, said that if aspiring young Indian Americans and other South Asian Americans work hard, they can accomplish anything in the US and can hope to reach almost any position.