Exclusive–Shalabh Kumar tells BLP about Tuesday’s Oval Office Dawali ceremony with Trump
The Indian-born Chicago billionaire, who led the effort to flip the Hindu-American vote from 16 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012 to 64 percent for Donald J. Trump in 2016, joined the president Tuesday at the White House for a Diwali ceremony in the Oval Office.
“He declared on Oct. 15 last year that ‘We love Hindus and you will have the best friend in the White House if I am elected,’ and he is keeping all of his promises,” said Shalabh Kumar, the founder of the Republican Hindu Coalition and the organizer of the Oct. 15, 2016 New Jersey rally, where Trump spoke to 15,000 at the hall and tens of millions of Indians live on Indian TV.
“He is keeping all of his other promises, too,” Kumar said.
Among the promises to Hindu-Americans Trump is keeping is his commitment to improving relations with India and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said. It must be noted that before Modi became his country’s premiere, President Barack Obama refused to grant him a visa to visit the United States, forcing Americans, such as Kumar and Capitol Hill Republicans to travel to India to meet with him face-to-face.
“We are so happy to see quite a few dignitaries there, including Nikki Haley and Ivanka Trump, there were 15 or so people there, who are serving in the administration,” he said. Haley is the ambassador to the United Nations and was raised a Sikh, although she is now a practicing Methodist.
Kumar said members of the Republican Hindu Coalition and the Kumar family were brought directly into the Roosevelt Room, where they waited to meet with the president.
After Kumar’s remarks and words from the president, Trump walked over to the makeshift altar in the center of the Oval Office decorated with flowers and an India-style lamp and he lit the candles set upon the table.
In his remarks, the president thanked the members of the Republican Hindu Coalition for their support during the 2016 campaign, the engineer and inventor said.
Kumar also presented Trump with the book Ab Ki Baar Trump Sarkar! How One Man Flipped the Hindu-American Vote to Put Trump in the White House by Republican operative and strategist James Kahrs.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly also attended the ceremony and stayed behind afterward as the president chatted with the Kumar family, he said.
“I told the president: ‘On this day of Diwali, we celebrate the homecoming of the best of human beings, recognized as the best among men, Lord Rama, who was welcomed back in his capital after conquering the evil king and killing the evil king, who was terrorizing India,” he said.
Kumar said he predicted in February that Trump has the potential to usher in a golden age of wise governance, which in India is referred to as Ram Rajya, a reign like that of Lord Rama.
“During Diwali, Hindus all over the world pray for Ram Rajya in their own country, no matter if they are in the U.K., or Kuwait or India or the United States or wherever they are, they prayer: ‘Please, God, bring us a Ram Rajya,’” he said.