After nearly two terms in Congress, Rep. Ro Khanna has become a nationwide progressive leader. His work on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign could possibly put Khanna in line for a job in the Social Democrat’s future administration.
Khanna is already one of the most powerful Indian Americans in Washington. But his rise as a progressive icon is rankling some within the Indian communities of Fremont and Silicon Valley, including a Fremont power broker named Romesh Japra.
“Ro Khanna has not only failed our community but also has become [a] radical socialist thus ruining our American Dream!!!,” Japra wrote in a Facebook post earlier this month that caught the attention of many East Bay political insiders.
Japra posted a selfie that includes a yard sign for one of Khanna’s challengers in the Mar. 3 primary, Republican Ritesh Tandon.
Disenchantment with Khanna among some Indian American conservatives began after Khanna joined the Pakistan Caucus in the House of Representatives. The move was viewed by Indian American conservatives as treasonous in light of the generations-long fight between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.
Khanna has said his intentions for joining the Pakistan Caucus was a conciliatory move intended to find a solution to conflicts between the two South Asian countries, along with Muslims and Hindus.
Khanna declined to speak on the record.
Khanna’s election to Congress in 2016 quickly became of point of immense pride for Indian Americans in Silicon Valley and the East Bay. But for some Indian nationalists and conservatives in the area may not have been ready for the progressive leader Khanna has become in the years since.
In Khanna’s two elections against former Rep. Mike Honda, he did not run as the staunch progressive who today serves as Sanders’ presidential campaign co-chair. However, once elected, he made it clear that he would become of one of the most progressive lawmakers in Congress.
But while Japra has long been a player in Fremont politics, his influence today is debatable, according to Southern Alameda County insiders.
Japra’s Facebook page includes several other postings in support of Tandon a first-time candidate, in addition, to those favorable to President Trump.
It remains to be seen whether Khanna will have to face simmering anger from Indian American conservatives through the November election. Tandon is one of three challengers in the 17th Congressional District primary next week seeking a place in the top two November General Election. Among them is a libertarian candidate whose ballot designation is “square dance caller.”