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WASHINGTON: Former US ambassador to UN Nikki Haley offered a hearty endorsement of President Donald Trump on the opening day of the virtual Republican convention on Monday, while setting the stage for her own possible run for high office in 2024 in a scenario that evoked a potential clash in American politics between two women of Indian heritage.
Haley, who is of Sikh heritage and was born Nimrata Randhawa, stole the limelight on a frenetic opening day of shrill speeches celebrating the cult of Trump with a measured address that invoked her own immigrant background and accomplishments as the former governor of South Carolina.
“In much of the Democratic Party, it’s now fashionable to say that America is racist. That is a lie. America is not a racist country. This is personal for me. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. They came to America and settled in a small southern town. My father wore a turban. My mother wore a sari. I was a brown girl in a black and white world,” she said in a speech that was widely seen as build-up to a 2024 Presidential bid, although she will have to navigate past a Trump clan that by all accounts is settling in for dynastic succession.
“We faced discrimination and hardship. But my parents never gave in to grievance and hate. My mom built a successful business. My dad taught 30 years at a historically black college. And the people of South Carolina chose me as their first minority and first female governor,” Haley continued, making her case in a sedate and stately manner after several strident speeches by animated Trump supporters.
The address caught the attention of several pundits– and even the normally restrained wire services – for its ambitious undertones after Trumpublicans put Haley in the spotlight to counter the Democratic nomination of California Senator Kamala Harris for the vice-presidency. Haley’s parents Ajit Singh Randhawa and Raj Kaur emigrated from Amritsar, while Kamala Harris’ mother Shyamala Gopalan is originally from Tamil Nadu and studied in Delhi before coming to the US.
“Nikki Haley’s speech at #RNC2020 took on added symbolism, coming on the heels of Kamala Harris at #DNC2020. Both invoked their Indian immigrant heritage. Haley’s speech very well may position her as a front-runner for president in 2024 or 2028,” noted Karthick Ramakrishnan, a political science professor at UC Riverside, who tracks Indian-American political activity, adding, “It is unlikely, however, to change the minds of many Indian American voters.”
Haley mined her stint as the U.S envoy to U.N and her time as South Carolina governor to pillory Democrats for failures both on the domestic and foreign policy fronts, warning that “a Biden-Harris administration would be much, much worse.”
“Last time, Joe’s boss was Obama… this time, it would be Pelosi, Sanders, and the Squad. Their vision for America is socialism. And we know that socialism has failed everywhere,” she warned, praising Trump’s record and arguing “he has earned four more years as President.” It was a full about turn for Haley, who had opposed Trump in 2016, describing him as “scary” and saying he stood for “everything we teach our kids not to do in kindergarten.”
Haley’s remarks were preceded and followed by other speeches that sought to counter the impression of the Republican Party has turned into a white bastion, including presentations by two African-American that questioned the Democratic Party stranglehold on black votes.
“The Democratic Party does not want Black people to leave their mental plantation. We’ve been forced to be there for decades and generations. But I have news for Joe Biden: We are free. We are free people with free minds.” said Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones, a Democrat, amid liberal ridicule about “Uncle Toms” – a pejorative term for a black man considered to be excessively obedient or servile to white people. Democrats are said to have the support of 90 per cent of blacks in the US.
The GOP convention, dubbed a “festival of fear” for its dark portrayal of Democratic future amid continuing desertions of anti-Trump Republicans, also featured the St Louis couple who threatened protestors with guns. It came against the backdrop of yet another sickening shooting of a black man by white police officers.
There was also the overhang of a sex scandal involving a well-known Christian conservative Jerry Falwell whose endorsement of Trump had brought in the evangelical vote.
Falwell was ousted as President of the conservative Liberty University – dubbed America’s “holiest school,” whose laughably strict rules prohibit even “optical intercourse” (looking too intently at members of opposite sex) – after he was outed over a triangular affair involving his wife and a poolboy.

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