The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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One certainty in US poll: Indian win
- Bobby Jindal all but sure to gain seat in House of Representatives

Washington, Oct. 27: In an American election season ruled by uncertainties, one certainty stands out: there will be an Indian-American in the new House of Representatives to be elected on November 2.

Bobby Jindal, 33, who is a sure shot for the Republicans from Louisiana's first congressional district, will be the second American of Indian origin ever to be elected to the US Congress.

The first was Dalip Singh Saund, a pioneer in the struggle against laws that prohibited Indians from becoming US citizens. He was elected from California in 1956.

The election of Jindal, who has been the frontrunner in the constituency from the very start of the campaign, became a virtual certainty after his main rival, Steve Scalise, quit the race. Scalise, the only other candidate in the race with wide name recognition among voters, has been a Republican state legislator for eight years.

Louisiana has a curious election system which allows any number of candidates from the same party to contest.

If no candidate wins 50 per cent of the votes polled, there will be a second round of polling between the top two candidates, who may well be from the same party.

It was this system which created a false impression in India last year ' promoted by Jindal's relatives in New Delhi ' that he was poised to win Louisiana's governorship after he topped the first round of the polling with a deceptively impressive 33 per cent of votes.

Louisiana, which has a large black population, has had only three Republican governors in the last 100 years.

In the second round, after 15 candidates -- several of them Democrats -- were eliminated, Democrat Kathleen Blanco, who had only 18 per cent of the votes in the first round, convincingly defeated Jindal.

For his Congressional run, however, Jindal has chosen a seat which is predominantly white, puritanically Christian and very conservative.

It is the kind of seat where Jindal's own ultra-conservative views can overcome the handicap of his brown skin.

A pointer to the profile of this constituency is that Jindal's main rival after the withdrawal of Scalise had proximity to the dreaded Ku Klux Klan.

Roy Armstrong lived in Germany for 23 years until 1999, where he was once arrested for demonstrating for the release from prison of Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess and once for distributing an anti-immigrant pamphlet titled 'Do not let the parasites come into your country'.

Armstrong, 55, is also an aya ram gaya ram of Louisiana politics. He was a Democrat, but switched to the Republicans in 1999. But he returned to the Democrats shortly before getting into this race.

Another key to Jindal's success is money, a vital ingredient in American elections. Jindal has already raised more than $2 million, outpacing every candidate -- both Democrat and Republican -- in all of Louisiana.

Only a Republican and a Democrat in the US Senate race from Louisiana has collected more than Jindal in this election season.

Jindal is so awash with funds that he has been donating part of his surplus war chest to other Republican candidates in need of money. He has given $25,000 to the Republican National Committee and distributed $31,000 among 19 Republican candidates in 11 states.

The strategy will pay off when other Congressmen who have received funds from Jindal will be indebted to him and boost his narrow support base on Capitol Hill as a first-time legislator.

Although Indian Americans are supporting Jindal, they are not a factor in voting in Louisiana. There are merely 8,280 Indian Americans in all of the state compared to 1.6 million in the entire US.

In some Congressional races in New Jersey and California, they constitute a vote bank and are being wooed by candidates.

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