Governor Piyush Bobby Jindal
Bobby Jindal was elected Governor of Louisiana, becoming the first Indian American
governor in the United States. The Indian American community, however, has mixed
feelings about his triumph. A Republican, Jindal (36) won more than 50 per cent of the
vote against a field of 12 candidates in the conservative southern state. He is the first
nonWhite to become Louisiana's governor since Reconstruction.
"Let's give our homeland, the great state of Louisiana, a fresh start," Jindal told jubilant
supporters. His nearest competitors: Democrat Walter Boasso won 18 per cent of the
vote; Independent John Georges got 14 per cent; and Democrat Foster Campbell got 13
Jindal, an Oxford-educated Rhodes Scholar, had lost the gubernatorial election to
Kathleen Babineaux Blanco four years ago. Since then, the mishandling of Hurricane
Katrina in 2005 blew away Blanco's re-election chances and she opted not to run again.
She said, "My administration has begun readying for this change and we look forward to
helping with a smooth transition. I want to thank the people of Louisiana for the past four
years, though there is still much work to do in my last few months as your governor."
When he takes office in January, Jindal, the son of Indian immigrants, will become the
nation’s youngest governor in office. Indian American Leadership initiative spokesman
Toby Chaudhari said many in the community are hoping that Jindal’s victory will mark a
turning point for a group that is getting more politically active in the US. Jindal would
achieve a big political success as the first Indian American governor, but he leaves
behind mixed feeling within the Indian American community.
Some people supported Jindal hoping it would make a big statement that an Indian
American can become the governor of a Dixie state as a candidate from a historically
white only party. But bobby is a conservative republican and most Indian Americans are
not so there are a lot of mixed feelings about him.
Jindal is a born again roman catholic who supports teaching intelligent design as an
alternative to devolution in public schools, favors a ban on abortion and opposes hate
crime laws. As a born again Roman Catholic Jindal may have cornered the Mother
Theresa vote but Mahatma Gandhi certainly would have opposed him on principle.
The next governor of Louisiana is faced with several challenges. By many estimates it’s
the nation’s poorest state one of the unhealthiest and least educated. The state lacks basic
infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of people are still displaced by hurricane
Indian American leadership initiative president Jay Chaudhari of North Carolina said that
jindal’s election will be a point of pride for many Indian Americans for the most part.
His election is also a double edged sword. On the one hand his economic policies should
appeal to the well to do community; on the other hand his social policies such as prayer
in school will be troubling to Indian Americans many of which are non Christians. Today
bobby Jindal represents the Indian American community’s seat at the table. The question
will be as he governs whether he is the right person in the seat.
Some firmly believe that Jindal’s success is not an acceptance of an appropriate role for
minorities in Louisiana but is more of his Christian religion and conservative principles
that makes him acceptable. However, it is still doubtful if he would have won on his
Even the Indians in the country and outside went overboard in celebrating the resounding
win of Bobby Jindal as the Louisiana governor; it was a quiet celebration at his relatives’
homes back in India. "It is a proud moment for every Indian and reaffirms Louisiana
residents' faith in Bobby's no-nonsense approach to the public issues,” said his maternal
uncle Mr. S. C. Gupta bowing in gratitude to the Almighty for the "splendid success" of
Flipping through the family albums showing Bobby is different poses as a toddler and
adult, Guptas went down the memory lane and shared fond memories of the "exceptional
child", whose intellect was far beyond his years, "He was not a playful child like other
children and his inquisitive mind always yearned for more knowledge particularly about
Indian mythology, including Ramayana and Mahabharta,"
The son of Punjabi immigrants Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, 36, a Republican member of the
House of Representatives, is also the first non-white to hold the post since the 1870s and
the nation's youngest governor, said The Advocate newspaper in the state capital Baton
Rouge. In 2004, Jindal became the second Indian-American to be elected to the US
Congress. Some analysts blamed racism for his narrow 2003 loss in the Louisiana
governorship race to Kathleen Blanco, a white moderate Democrat.
Jindal, who adopted his nickname from The Brady Bunch television show as a boy and
converted to Roman Catholicism from Hinduism as a teenager, has moved rapidly up the
political ladder. He was appointed secretary of Louisiana's Department of Health and
Hospitals at the age of 24. After a brief stint in Washington, he returned home as the
youngest president of the University of Louisiana System before being appointed a top
policy advisor in the federal department of Health and Human Services.
He refused to admit that race was a factor in his failure to carry the state in 2003, but he
worked on his image, donning cowboy boots and jeans and spending time in
fundamentalist Christian churches. Jindal was born and raised in Baton Rouge after his
parents came to the United States so that his mother, pregnant with him at the time, could
continue her graduate work in nuclear physics.
His father, an engineer, was one of nine children in a poor rural family in Punjab.
He was also the youngest ever president of the University of Louisiana .system between
1999 and 2001. President George W Bush appointed him assistant secretary for planning
and evaluation in the US Department of Health and Human Services. He married Supriya
Jolly in 1997. The couple has three children.