Shalli Kumar is the founder and head of a recently revived Indian-American conservative political coalition that is primarily concerned about fiscal responsibility and reducing foreign aid to Pakistan.
“We simply don’t like the fact we have to borrow money from China,” Kumar, who runs an automation company and is the inventor of the French Fry computer that companies like McDonald’s use, told The Daily Caller.
“And then on top of that we have to borrow money from China and we give $4 billion a year to a country that is not helping us any way. It is really shooting at our soldiers and causing havoc in India.”
Kumar’s group, the National American Indian Coalition (NIAC), is currently small and heavily composed of Indian-American families from Illinois, though Kumar says it has expanded to include members in other states, especially Texas and New Jersey.
While their primary focus right now is educating Indian-American business leaders across the country so they can, in turn, meet and educate their local congressmen on issues of concern to the Indian-American community, Kumar says the group will ultimately be setting up a PAC and a super PAC.
Kumar himself was a supporter of Newt Gingrich during the presidential primary, and served as campaign chair for the former House speaker in Scott County, Iowa, where Kumar’s automation business has facilities. But when asked about Mitt Romney, Kumar said he and his organization are less than enthusiastic.
“We certainly don’t want President Obama to get re-elected,” Kumar said.
“In a way you sort of get forced into this position over there that you will possibly help Mr. Romney, but I wish Gov. Romney was not that overly cautious. He’s just overly cautious on everything.”
He said his group’s priorities this cycle will be helping in the re-election efforts of Reps. Joe Walsh of Illinois and Allen West of Florida.
“He’s very much aligned with all our issues on national defense, on fiscal responsibility,” Kumar said of West, who spoke at a NIAC-organized event on Capitol Hill focused on foreign aid to Pakistan recently.
As for Walsh, Kumar said he’s the group’s top priority, and they believe they can make a difference for Walsh in a close race in the newly remapped Illinois 8th Congressional District.
Kumar said Walsh’s remapped district has “30-plus something thousand Indian-American voters.” While in the past, he said they “either don’t vote or if they voted they voted Democrat,” Kumar believes that could change now that Walsh has “delved into the issues that are important to Indian-Americans.”
“You know, on fiscal side, business side, regulation, taxes — all those issues that are important to Indian-Americans,” he said.
“And on top of that, this Pakistan issue, he’s come to the forefront, he was the person organizing this event in D.C. And he’s also taken on another issue which became quite popular with Indian-Americans in his district besides across the country — that is one section of Indian-Americans that is Gujarati. And they love chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, who has been denied a visa to the U.S. in a totally … unprofessional, doesn’t make any sense, nonsense way.”
Kumar says he first got involved in politics to support Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s, along with other Indian-American families he knew in Illinois, as part of former New York Rep. Jack Kemp’s outreach program to minority communities. But Kumar says his activism didn’t last into the 1990s and he and his coalition went largely inactive until 2010, when he said he saw the country heading in the wrong direction.
“In a way we were excited to see the first non-white become a president of the country,” he said. “It was a matter of a little bit of a pride for us. We were not quite sure what his policies will be. And then eventually his policies became clearer and clearer and clearer with even the card check legislation he was proposing, so we decided to become active again.”
Kumar said it’s ultimately up to Republicans to court the Indian-American vote and coax them away from the Democratic Party.
“It really depends on the Republicans,” he said.
“When they get educated about this, that there is this group, they have, you know, just general impression that Indian-Americans are smart. They are doctors. That’s sort of the impression they have. But they do not know the demographics. If the Republican Party — and that is what my agenda is, the Republican Party — if the Republican Party goes out and has a really solid outreach program just like Jack Kemp had in ’80, then there will be a match-up because our values system is completely aligned on the conservative side.”