Dear brothers and sisters, Namaste!
Vijaya Dasami is an occasion in which we as Hindus renew our pledge to fight against forces of selfishness and injustice. We are inspired by the actions of the Divine Mother herself. In every age, there are Asuric forces that attempt to weaken or destroy the forces of Dharma. It is the duty of all those who believe in Dharma to act decisively against such Asuric forces for the sake of preserving and protecting Dharma, the foundation for a healthy society.
In America, what is the duty of a Hindu in the modern context? Specifically should we oppose the candidacy of Preeta Bansal to become a Judge in the State of New York? If so, what is the rationale behind such an action?
We all know that Preeta Bansal, the former Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on behalf of the commission aggressively sought to block the visit of Shri Narendra Modi to the USA by denying him a visa through an intense campaign. This campaign succeeded and in a shocking, unprecedented move, the State Department denied a visa to Shri Modi. Although the evidence against Shri Modi was inconclusive at most and he was firmly exonerated by the Supreme Court of India, Preeta Bansal took a stand that harmed the long-term interests of our community and India and seriously damaged India-US diplomacy.
This action has been disastrous for the US and for India. It has embittered Indo-US relations, roused anti- US ire among citizens in India, enraged the Indian-American community and became a dark chapter in Indo-US diplomacy that has not been fully remediated even after the recent wildly successful visit to the US by PM Modi. It created much consternation for President Obama, his administration and the State Department, who had to exert a lot of effort and energy in trying to apologize and gloss over this shameful episode upon the election of Shri Modi as the Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world. It is clear that the US government now sorely regrets this decision was ever made. Even though the State Department has never at any other time so insulted a national leader of any other country, this action against India was taken solely at the behest of the USCIRF under Bansal’s leadership and intense campaigning.
As the leader of USCIRF, Bansal is ultimately accountable for this bigoted, anti-India campaign that was so harmful to our collective interests. At the very least, even if for some reason she could not stop others in the USCIRF from pursuing this campaign, she should have made public statements denouncing this vicious campaign against India and one of its most beloved leaders in modern history. Even if she were not the driver of this campaign, she is accountable to the community for her actions and for her role as leader of the USCIRF in this despicable episode. Preeta Bansal has shown herself to be a willing and enthusiastic pawn in the hands of anti-India forces, and her actions clearly harmed all of us.
Many within our community had enthusiastically supported her appointment to the USCIRF and worked hard to make that happen. The motivation for that was to have a leader who represented our interests and who would take decisions based on principles and basic fairness. In violating that, Bansal has lost the right to any support from the community going forward. If she is not held accountable to the community, what kind of precedent will this set for the future? We must set certain standards for leaders of our community, to ensure they represent us and our interests when they expect and receive our support.
The American establishment is definitely not pro Hindu. None of us have any illusions about that. It is my opinion, which is also shared by many, that we must act decisively and not be timid or naïve. If we want the American establishment to be at least neutral towards Hindus and India, then we must speak in one, united and clear voice that we will not support those who compromised our collective interests. There are many in our community who are naïve, ignorant, selfish, timid, weak or outright anti-Hindu. Our silence, inaction and apathy will only allow such people to represent us in the establishment to our detriment. I believe that we need to put a stop to this practice. Any one who wish to run for public office or be appointed to important positions in America would have to meet some minimum expectations of the community and one of those expectations ought to be that a candidate has not colluded with anti-India forces to humiliate India on the world stage or to harm Indo-US relations or otherwise harm the interests of our community.
For the Governor of New York, the decision will be based on the qualifications of the candidate and to what degree he wants to oblige his supporters and followers in the Indian-American and American Hindu communities. As such, I am of the firm view that a person who has ignored objectivity and impartiality, who has displayed such terribly poor judgment, lacks the basic requirements to be considered for the position of a judge. We are asking Governor Cuomo to not select Preeta Bansal because of her proven record of failure to judge on the basis of facts, rather than political compulsions or propaganda. She has failed in that test and hence we oppose her candidacy.
The US Hindu Alliance (USHA), along with numerous organizations and important individuals, has launched a campaign to stop her appointment to the Court of Appeals. If we do not stop her now, she could eventually be considered for a vacancy in the US Supreme Court. I would like to know if you are willing to support this campaign and make it successful. If so, kindly send me an email and confirm your willingness to stand up for our community and support our efforts. If you are willing to lend total support, then we will be sending an invitation to a conference call on Tuesday evening at 8.30 p.m. Thank you.