The Maryland gubernatorial race saw Wes Moore, the successful Democratic candidate, draw support from leaders of organizations that formerly supported former President Trump. One of the fundraisers for Moore was a Hindutva member, Adapa Prasad, the national president of the group Overseas Friends of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Overseas Friends of the BJP form the US wing of Indian Prime Minister’s Modi right-wing party.
At the fundraiser that Prasad attended, over $100,000 was raised for Moore.
Hindutva money showing up in US elections is not anything new. During the 2020 election cycle, there were many instances of Hindutva supporters in the US supporting candidates who took money from Hindutva groups. Tulsi Gabbard, a former Democratic candidate for president, recently left the Democratic Party and is known receiving money from Hindutva groups.
Moore’s Lieutenant Governor, Aruna Miller, is the first immigrant to hold the office, and has donor records and public statements that tie her to Hindutva groups. Peace Action Montgomery claims that Miller has received over $60k from leaders in the Hindutva movement since 2018. They claim that in January 2022, she received at least $16k from Hindutva donors for the gubernatorial campaign. You can learn more about the concerns on Miller’s donor record and Peace Action Montgomery’s action item for Miller to return her donations from Hindutva donors here. Aruna Miller has a page on Wes Moore’s website that claims she has a “clear record fighting for religious freedom and supporting the Islamic community in Maryland and abroad.”
Recently, ICNA CSJ published a two-part series on Hindu nationalism and a report published by Jasa Macher on Hindutva globally and in the US. The following is from this series and is relevant to the state of Hindutva in the elections.
Hindu nationalism has steadily become more and more entrenched in the social and political landscape and fabric of the US. According to the [Jasa] Macher report, the Hindutva agenda in the US focuses on consolidating power for Hindutva groups through networks of groups that “organize Hindu communities by capturing the righteous frustration at experiences of racism.” They further wish to direct diaspora Hindus to engage with upper caste cultural repertoire – accepting Hindus as the “true owners of land in India.”
Through accessing US transparency laws, court documents, lobbyists, and archives, Macher reports on a variety of ways that Hindutva has entrenched in the US, which you can read here.
Since the BJP’s ascension to power in India in 2014, the emphasis on transforming India to a Hindu-first state was accelerated through a rise in violence against Christians, Dalits, and Muslims. There have been many reports of tech companies in Silicon Valley and the US engaging in caste discriminiation, discriminating against lower-caste Indians.
Hindutva influencers in the US include the Hindu American Foundation, Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora, the Bhutada Family Foundation, the Dharma Civilization Foundation, and more.