The US Industrialist Close to PM Modi and Donald Trump
NEW DELHI: Shalabh Kumar is a rich industrialist in the US, not yet that well known in India, but with a trajectory his colleagues in the business would envy. He is a friend of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a place well earned after he lobbied hard for an end to the visa-ban, and is now a recognised funder and friend of US Republican candidate for President, Donald Trump.
Trump, being attacked roundly for what First Lady Michelle Obama has described as “sexual predatory behaviour”, got a much needed pat-on-the-back from the relatively new Hindu Republican Coalition that invited him for a meeting in New Jersey as an act of endorsement.
Trump whose lewd, offensive remarks against women hurt his ratings virtually on the eve of the big vote, and who has been in the news for his divisive and often hateful speech against specific communities, has a strong supporter in the HRC. More so in its founder-member Shalabh Kumar, who is close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is not just a big Trump fan but a huge Trump funder as well.
Kumar’s contribution to the Trump campaign got him publicity in the US media.The Hill, a US political website wrote: “Kumar is sending $898,800 to Trump Victory, the joint fundraising arrangement between the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and 11 state parties. The Republican Hindu Coalition, as a non-profit entity, is not coordinating with the Trump campaign but is generally supportive of Trump.
While the individual maximum donation is $449,400, the “double max” is when fundraisers find a wealthy donor who will also give the maximum contribution in the name of his wife, as Kumar has done.” In an effort to identify the reasons for this level of support The Hill spoke with Kumar who said that he was so impressed by Trump after a personal meeting that within a day or two of their first interaction “Kumar had wired $449,400 to Trump Victory”. Kumar said that this was “just the start”, the “seed money” as he described it.
The Hill report said that Kumar was won over by Trumps tough words against Pakistan and his views on Muslim profiling. Kumar told the interviewer, “The way the Muslim religion is being practiced today — it’s not the religion but the way it is being practiced today — there’s something wrong,” Kumar said.
“The policy setting is that we need to have a lot of scrutiny. I totally agree with [former Speaker] Newt Gingrich [R-Ga.]: Mosques should be monitored completely, vetting should be taking place. ... I am totally for profiling. If you need to profile, what is the fuss?”
At the New Jersey event, the meeting did not pass without incident, with anti-Trump protesters raising slogans outside the venue. The media has reported a scuffle between the two groups, with the protesters including many Indians. In fact, according to NDTV, a Dalit woman protester was shouted at by a Trump supporter and told to get out of the country in unsavoury langauge.
Kumar is based in Chicago, and runs an electronic manufacturing firm. His son, also a founding member of the HRC is married to a former Miss India at what is described even on the organisations website as a most lavish wedding in New Zealnd. Media information, not verified independently, maintains that Kumar had nine helicopters fly in a “V’ formation at the head of his son Vikram’s baraat, over Auckland.
He has been a vocal supporter of PM Modi even earlier when he was denied a visa by the US, and has been lobbying with the Republican Party to support the Indian leader. He told the Hindustan Times in an interview in 2013 that he had come to know PM Modi, who was then the Gujarat Chief Minister, just two years before but had been working ceaselessly to end his isolation.
In fact he had created headlines by organising the visit of three US lawmakers---Aaron Schock, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Cynthia Lummis---to meet then CM Modi in what was widely interpreted as a signal that Washington was now moving to end the BJP leaders isolation, imposed after the 2002 carnage in Gujarat. The visit had run into some controversy then over the funding for the American lawmakers, a fact that Kumar glossed over in his interview with the HT saying that a think tank set up by him and his son at the time had subsidised the visit.
Kumar makes no secret of his admiration for PM Modi having met him during his visits to the US.
Kumar is originally from Amritsar, and went to the US to study and stayed on. His father was a civil servant.
The HRC is inspired by and modelled after the Republican Jewish Coalition, a fact it mentions on its website.