Washington: The Samosa Caucus is growing. From one in 2013, it has grown to Five+One, that is five Indian-descent lawmakers in US Congress, and former colleagues of theirs in the White House.
And it could welcome new members in 2025.
Rishi Kumar, an IT professional from Mumbai who calls himself the “Slumdog Engineer”, is running for US Congress from California for an open seat vacated by a longtime Democrat. He had run to unseat her in 2020 and 2022 and although he had lost, he looked in a position to win because he had won enough votes to make it on the general election ballot, beating other competitors in the primaries (California has had a top-two primary system since 2011).
Ravinder Bhalla, a Sikh American who is mayor of Hoboken, a city in New Jersey state, is challenging his own party’s lawmaker from the state Rob Menendez, whose father Senator Bob Menendez is facing federal charges that he worked on behalf of the Egyptian government while serving as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and accepted bribes, including a gold brick.
He is probably hoping for the elder Menendez’s legal problems to doom his son’s re-election chances.
Both Kumar and Bhalla are Democrats.
Niraj Antani, a Republican state Senator in Ohio, is running for US Congress from a seat vacated by a retiring Republican. He is only 32 and if elected, will become the youngest Indian American in US Congress.
While the first Indian Americans to serve as members of US congress go decades back, Dalip Singh Saund from 1957 to 1963 and Piyush “Bobby” Jindal from 2005 to 2008, and Ami Bera in 2013, their solitary presence did not merit a group name, which came in 2017 when Bera was joined by three Indian-decent members in the House of Representatives, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Rohit “Ro” Khanna and Pramila Jayapal; and one in the US Senate, Kamala Harris.
Krishnamoorthi first used the term “Samosa Caucus” for the group, which was picked up by the media and the group soon came to be called by that name, to some discomfort of its members.
Harris left the group in 2020, when she was elected to serve as President Joe Biden’s Vice President. But her loss was soon made up by Shri Thanedar, who became the fifth member of the group in 2023.
They are all Democrats and it’s not clear yet if the Samosa Caucus would welcome Republicans, such as Antani if he is elected.