Tulsi, Vivek, Rishi, and the shocking tale of HinduDvesha in the West

Navigating the Political Landscape: Hinduphobia and the Struggles of Hindu Politicians in the West

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Despite their significant numbers and socio-economic achievements, Hindu communities in both the United States and the United Kingdom are under-represented in their respective political landscapes.

In the United States, where Hindus constitute[1] 1% of the population, political representation remains limited. American Hindus are highly educated, have the highest household income rates among all immigrant communities, and have the lowest divorce rates. While these factors suggest a solid foundation for political influence, the reality is quite the opposite. The majority of American Hindus have been relegated to the role of a ‘vote bank’ for the Democratic Party, underlining the disconnect between their socio-economic contributions and actual political representation.

Across the Atlantic, in the United Kingdom, a similar story emerges. Comprising 1.7% of the total population, or just over a million in 2021, British Hindus[2] represent the third largest religious group in the country. They boast high socio-economic indicators, including making a large contribution to the nation’s economy among all ethnic minorities in Britain, the third-lowest poverty level, among the least crime-prone, and high participation in skilled occupations. Notwithstanding, political representation has been limited. Even with the appointment of the Hindu Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, systemic disadvantage, and discrimination persist, as pointed out by a report[3] authored by Robert Berkeley of the Runnymede Trust.

Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi Gabbard’s 2020 presidential campaign, despite her being a prominent Hindu political figure, is emblematic of the obstacles that American Hindus face in their quest for political representation.

As a Democrat, Gabbard made a strong impression[4] during the initial stages of the 2020 race, especially during the debates where she presented a forceful, direct, and unapologetic stance. However, despite her spirited performance, which certainly caught public attention, Gabbard remained relatively obscure within the mainstream pack of contenders.

A key milestone in her campaign was her second-place finish in the American Samoa caucuses during Super Tuesday, where she won two pledged delegates. Although this victory did not elevate her to a prominent position in the race, it would have guaranteed her a spot on the stage for the following Democratic debate, under the rules at that time. Controversially, new rules were subsequently implemented, excluding[5] Gabbard from the debate. This move provoked accusations of Hinduphobia and political manipulation.

Gabbard’s campaign faced significant hurdles from various corners. For instance, both right and left-leaning media were accused of ignoring[6] her, limiting voters’ exposure to her messaging, policy positions, and the background and experience she brought to serve as commander-in-chief.

In addition, allegations surfaced of potential online suppression of Gabbard’s visibility. A report by www.louderwithcrowder.com suggested that YouTube was ‘shadow banning’[7] her views. This claim was supported by discrepancies in search results for “Tulsi Gabbard” when using a VPN set to the US compared to other countries, further stoking accusations of Hinduphobia.

Throughout her campaign, Gabbard faced attacks from some quarters of the media, who labeled her as a Hindu fundamentalist with questionable ties to foreign leaders such as Narendra Modi, Vladimir Putin, and Egyptian President Fatah Al Sisi. These allegations, grounded in Gabbard’s faith and associations, amplified the challenges faced by her campaign.

Following the campaign, Gabbard publicly expressed disillusionment[8] with the Democratic party, accusing it of being controlled by an elitist group, stoking anti-white racism, showing contempt toward religion and police, and leading the country towards nuclear war.

Vivek Ramaswamy

Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign[9] for the 2024 Republican Party presidential primaries illuminates the difficulties faced by Hindu candidates in the United States, often encountering opposition rooted in religious bias or distortion of their political agenda.

Ramaswamy[10], an accomplished entrepreneur born to Indian immigrant parents, made his name in conservative circles as an “anti-woke” activist. His campaign capitalized on his belief that the United States is facing a “national identity crisis”, attributing it to the rise of “new secular religions” including “woke-ism”, “climate-ism”, “covid-ism”, and “gender ideology”. Given his qualifications and perspective, it would seem he would have been a valuable asset to the GOP. However, the reality proved to be different.

His candidacy faced vociferous opposition from conservative religious circles[11]. Pastor Hank Kunneman, for example, criticized Ramaswamy for his Hindu faith, implying that he would bring “strange gods” into the White House and thereby violate Judeo-Christian principles. The congregation’s applause in response to these comments underscored the obstacles confronting Hindu candidates within the GOP.

Similarly, the left-wing presented its own set of challenges. The Washington Post, for instance, described Ramaswamy as “Trump 2.0,” labeling him as an extreme evangelist. His policy proposals were depicted as radical and threatening to the limits of presidential authority, further marginalizing his candidacy.

Ramaswamy’s experiences highlight the twin challenges faced by Hindu candidates in American politics – the susceptibility to religious bias on one hand, and the distortion and extreme characterization of their political proposals on the other.

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak’s journey in British politics illustrates a different aspect of the challenges faced by Hindu politicians outside of the subcontinent. Sunak, despite his high-profile role and impeccable credentials, has experienced criticism that reflects the undercurrents of Hinduphobia in the UK.

The UK political landscape has been unsettled since Brexit, with the leadership of David Cameron, Theresa May, and Boris Johnson culminating in a vacuum at the top. After Johnson’s departure, the leadership race pitted Rishi Sunak against Liz Truss[12]. Sunak, despite being initially favored and securing endorsements from four former chief whips, fell behind[13] Truss inexplicably over the course of the campaign. As Sunak’s momentum waned, accusations surfaced about his Britishness and loyalty, with a caller on the LBC radio show[14], Jerry, claiming that Sunak “doesn’t love England” and “isn’t even British in most people’s opinion”. Anti-Hindu sentiments began to surface in various public spaces as the leadership race intensified.

Following Truss’s brief and unsuccessful tenure as Prime Minister, Sunak was chosen for the role, becoming the first British Prime Minister of Indian origin. His appointment, however, did not put an end to the critical and racially-charged scrutiny. The media’s characterization[15] of him as a ‘person of color’, a term largely abandoned in recent years, suggested a subtle othering and was a reminder of his outsider status. Various labels such as “Fishy Rishi”, references to his personal wealth, and questions about his ability to understand the challenges of ordinary people all contributed to the overall negative narrative. Scotland’s Daily Record went as far as to describe Sunak’s appointment as the “Death of Democracy”.

The Independent quoted a Tory MP who dismissed any enthusiasm for Sunak within the Conservative party, suggesting that his support base was weaker than perceived. This relentless and sometimes personal criticism, with its underlying tones of religious and racial bias, revealed the presence of Hinduphobia within the political discourse.

Sunak’s journey to the highest office in the UK and the subsequent discourse surrounding his tenure exemplify the challenges faced by Hindu political figures.

Hinduphobia Reigns Supreme

Despite significant strides made by individuals like Vivek, Tulsi, and Rishi, the latent Hinduphobia encountered at each stage is a sobering reminder of the systemic issues hindering the political integration of Hindus in the Western world.

Tulsi Gabbard, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Rishi Sunak represent the struggle of Hindu politicians in the West. Gabbard’s presidential run was marred by unaddressed biases, media censorship, and accusations of foreign influence. Ramaswamy’s candidacy was diminished by religious intolerance within his own party, while his policy proposals were misrepresented as extremist. Sunak, despite his rise to Prime Minister, faced insidious racial and religious othering, with his Britishness questioned and his wealth used against him.

These experiences underscore the persistent Hinduphobia in the West, hindering full political participation and representation of Hindus despite their significant demographic presence.


[1] Hinduism in the United States

[2] Hinduism in the United Kingdom

[3] Connecting British Hindus

[4] How you know Tulsi Gabbard really got under Kamala Harris’ skin

[5] Tulsi Gabbard won two delegates, but won’t be in the next debate

[6] Tulsi Gabbard blames near ‘total corporate media blackout’ for faltering campaign


[8] Former presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard says she is leaving the Democratic Party

[9] Vivek Ramaswamy runs as Trump 2.0 — an outsider with extreme proposals

[10] Vivek Ramaswamy

[11] Vivek Ramaswamy Is On the Rise. So Are Christian Nationalist Attacks on His Religion

[12] Liz Truss

[13] Explained: Why Rishi Sunak lost the UK Prime Ministerial race against Liz Truss

[14] ‘Rishi Sunak isn’t even British!’ says ‘racist’ caller on UK radio station. Host hits back | Watch

[15] How the western media is treating Rishi Sunak

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