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First Hindu in US Congress, Tulsi Gabbard, to run for President

IANS  |  New York 

The race for presidency in next year's election is likely to see a Hindu and a senator of part-Indian-American descent vying for the Democratic Party's nomination.

Tulsi Gabbard, 37, the first Hindu elected to the US Congress, announced on Friday that she will be running for

Kamala Harris, 54, who is of Indian and African-Jamaican descent and is identified as a member of the sect, is expected to announce her candidature for the nomination next week, according to several news reports quoting sources close to her.

Adding to the mix, there is speculation that Nikki Haley, who quit as US Permanent to the UN at the end of last last may seek the nomination in the event that is not up for re-election next year.

The former South Carolina was the first Indian American to be a member of the US cabinet and has received some grassroots support for a 2024 run.

Gabbard is not of Indian descent but comes from a Hindu family in and took her oath office on the Bhagavad Gita when she was first elected to the in 2011 and after her three re-elections.

An independent-minded Democrat who has defied party leadership, Gabbard said in an interview on CNN: "I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week."

A combat veteran who has served in Iraq, Gabbard said of her reason for running for president: "There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace."

She continues to be a member of the Army with the rank of and while serving in has been mobilised for emergency duties.

Despite - or because of - her military background, she has opposed US involvement in and faced criticism for visiting that

Gabbard has been a strong supporter of and closer US-ties as well as of

She has advocated cutting US aid to and pressuring it to end its support international terrorism.

Soon after Trump was elected in 2016, Gabbard met him amid rumours that she may be offered a job in his administration.

But this year she harshly criticised Trump for not taking a strong stand against for the killing of

She is on the populist left in the and supported Bernie Sanders, the maverick progressive senator, for the party's nomination in 2016.

She accused the party leadership of being partial to former and against Sanders and resigned as a of the party.

Sanders himself may run for the party nomination and another candidate from the party's left, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, has announced her candidature.

Former Joe Biden, who comes from the party's centrist wing, is also likely to join the fray.

Gabbard, who was elected to state legislature when she was only 21, is the youngest person running for the presidency so far for 2020.

She had a run-in with Harris this week, accusing her of religious bigotry for her opposition to a nominee for federal judgeship because he belonged to a Catholic organisation called the

"While I oppose the nomination of Brian Buescher to the in Nebraska, I stand strongly against those who are fomenting religious bigotry, citing as disqualifiers Buescher's Catholicism and his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus," Gabbard wrote in a newspaper op-ed.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, January 12 2019. 09:04 IST