As the US presidential race heats up, ahead of the November 3 election date, Gopalan Balachandran, the uncle of US vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris, has said that Joe Biden choosing Kamala as his running mate did not come as a surprise.
“She had performed at all levels,’’ said Balachandran, a former consultant at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, and now based in Delhi.
“As the district attorney of San Francisco, as the attorney general and as a senator, her performance has been more than average for the senate judiciary committee. She was the only person who stood out in all senate judiciary hearings,” he said.
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“As an attorney general, she brought in a whole lot of reforms. It was not that she has been a wallflower all along. She has been performing in all the positions that she held and so I expected Biden to choose Kamala from other contenders,” he added.
Balachandran, who is the brother of Kamala’s mother Shyamala Gopalan, strongly believes that there needs to be a change in the US government after four years of Trump.
“Biden, I feel, is a good choice and I am happy he chose Kamala as his running mate because she is competent. But apart from Kamala being the VP nominee, I would have said that the US needs a change in its political leadership,” he said.
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The vice-presidential debate, he felt, was ‘no contest at all’. “It was a walk. Pence had been a good Congressman but was handicapped by his boss. He can’t say anything on his own because his boss would have fired him. He was handicapped a lot during the debate,” he said.
Asked whether a leadership change in the US would affect the India-US relationship, he said, “As far as the India-US ties are concerned, substantially there is nothing between India and the US that require intervention at the very highest level, unlike when Bush intervened in the nuclear deal.”
“The Senate and Congress are already extremely for India. It will continue in that way and I don’t see any major problem for either the US President or Vice President to get actively involved in stuff,” he said.
Turning eloquent on how her mother has influenced Kamala a lot, Balachandran said, “As Kamala herself has said, she owes a lot to what she is today to her mother. She used to take part her in demonstrations in Berkeley when she was still in the pram.”
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Ever since Kamala’s nomination, Balachandran has not spoken to her. “I did not communicate directly from India with Kamala for the simple reason that US politics today is extremely toxic. And there is a whole lot of communication hacking going on and I didn’t want somebody saying that her uncle or somebody from India is trying to influence her. I send her mail and just called her to say ‘congratulations’.’’
Balachandran, who last met Kamala when he was in the US last year, said that he’s entirely in favour of all the things she has been saying although he “disagrees with her in a mild manner, here and there — on one or two points”.
The fact that Kamala is running for the vice-presidential post, he felt, will definitely help young Indian Americans and young African Americans. “The Indians in the US are already in a very high position – in science, technology, universities, etc. But so far, they have not entered the higher levels of US domestic politics.”
Kamala’s entry, he said, will press them now to enter politics in a much more active manner than before.
Moreover, he hopes it will make Indian Americans more aware of the other minority communities like the African Americans and Latin Americans. “You cannot afford to be only Indian or only American. You have to be American in its truest sense. It will also encourage other Indian Americans to be more aware of other minority communities. At least I hope it does,” he said.
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