Indian government officials are reaching out to Indian-American businessman and Donald Trump supporter Shalabh Kumar in order to establish contacts with the incoming Trump administration.
Senior government and political officials from India including Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, NSA Ajit Doval and BJP general secretary Ram Madhav have made several trips to the US already, as per a report in The Indian Express.
The founder of the Republican Hindu Coalition, Kumar has reportedly already helped secure separate appointments for India’s envoy to the US Navtej Sarna and Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to meet Republican leader Newt Gingrich.
While Kumar is reported to have offered his help to Indian government since the early stages of Trump’s campaign, Indian officials reportedly made light of his offers since they expected Hillary Clinton to emerge victorious.
Kumar is known to have donated almost Rs 6 crore ($898,000) to Trump’s successful presidential campaign.
He also organised a fundraiser for Donald Trump during the campaign, where the president elect expressed his support for stronger US-India ties under his leadership.
His support for Trump has been acknowledged by the incoming US President, who has reportedly awarded him a position in the Transition Finance and Inauguration teams. “I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and working together with Steve and the other members of the Trump administration to Make America Great Again,” an enthusiastic Kumar reportedly said after his appointment.
Kumar is one of three Indians to have been appointed in a Donald Trump administration, which otherwise is being viewed with suspicion from other immigrant groups in the US. He possibly is the only first generation Indian-American in Trump’s cabinet, with UN-envoy pick Nicky Haley and Dr Seema Verma, a top healthcare position pick, both being second generation Americans.
Beside donating generously toward Trump’s bid to the White House, Kumar is also believed to have played a key role in mobilising the support of Hindu-American community for the incoming president’s cause. Hindus reportedly make up approximately 2.2 million of America’s 323 million people.
Some key facts about Shalabh Kumar
- He is a supporter of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and reportedly attended Modi’s last address to the US Congress as a guest of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. He was dubbed as the “biggest supporter” of Modi in the US by a leading Indian newspaper.
- He is believed to be a backer of stricter immigration rules for Muslims, and keenly backed a Congress bill to cut aid to Pakistan in the wake of 9/11 mastermind being found holed up next to a military compound in the South Asian country.
- Kumar also reportedly voiced his concerns about proposed rules that would make it harder for Indian IT professionals to get H1B visa.
— Shalabh Kumar (@iamshalabhkumar) December 25, 2016