Obama Advisor's Disturbing
By Vinod K. Jose
12 November, 2008
The economist of Indian origin on President-Elect Barack Obama's transition team, Ms. Sonal Shah, has one dubious credential on her resume--her relationship with the Hindu extremist group, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). This militant group was held responsible for the genocidal pogroms against Muslims in the western Indian state of Gujarat in 2002 that killed 2,000 people and rendered 100,000 homeless. Ms. Shah was the "National Coordinator" for the VHP in North America . So the lingering question is: why hasn't the Obama team vetted enough on Ms. Sonal Shah's Hindu extremist connections?
The non-profit organization she founded, Indiacorps, sends Americans of
Indian origin to work on development projects in
In North America, Shah coordinated one of the major fund-raising campaigns
for VHP in 2001, to help the earthquake victims of
Not only was this money used to fund hate against Muslims, Christians and members from the lower caste communities, but it also violated tax laws.
In the context of an
Indian television exposé on the involvement of "spiritual
gurus" in money-laundering, former income tax commissioner Mr.
Vishwabahndhu Gupta implicated Shah's VHP as a "religious mafia" who
"floats bogus trusts" and violated tax regulations . Mr Gupta said
his department has evidence of how foreign money was misused by VHP's youth
wing, Bajrang Dal, in
In the last two months, Bajrang Dal was in the news again from the East Indian state of Orissa, where dozens of Christians were killed, 1400 houses and 80 churches burned, nuns raped and thousands pushed into refugee camps. The Orissa government, supported by the Hindu right wing parties, did very little to stop the violence against the Christians.
So this is the question to Obama from the quarters of his liberal, democratic constituency: howsoever much professionally qualified Ms. Shah might be, can she ever be an advisor in an administration of "change" when she has neither rectified her past relationships nor denounced any possible ongoing affiliations with the militant Hindu extremists?
the contrary, newspapers in Shah's state, Gujarat, are speculating
on how her proximity with Obama can help the man behind the 2002 killings
rebuild his image internationally . The Chief Minister of Gujarat and the
poster-boy of the extremists, Narendra Modi, was denied visa to the
Unlike what Gujarati newspapers seem to imply, it could be a long shot for Ms. Sonali Shah to get visa for a man accused of genocidal crimes. She is on the Obama advisory board to do something else: probably, to help him with the economy.
doesn’t need someone affiliated to VHP
Inc . That is not "diversity-representation." Remember,
this is an administration that is watched closely not just in the
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