Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, first Hindu member of US Congress, says she will run for president in 2020

United States Democratic lawmaker Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu member of the Congress, on Friday said she will run for president in 2020, CNN reported.

“I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week,” said the Hawaiian Democrat. Gabbard said she was concerned about a number of challenges facing the American people that she wants to help solve, including health care access, criminal justice reform and climate change.

“There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace,” said Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran and currently serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “I look forward to being able to get into this and to talk about it in depth when we make our announcement.”

Gabbard’s aide Rania Batrice will manage her presidential campaign. Batrice was Bernie Sanders’s deputy campaign manager in 2016.

Gabbard was born in American Samoa to a Catholic father, Hawaii State Senator Mike Gabbard, and her mother, Carol Porter Gabbard, is of Caucasian descent who professes Hinduism. Gabbard moved to Hawaii when she was two and embraced Hinduism as a teenager and is well-versed in the scriptures, reported.

Gabbard’s presidential will make her the first Hindu candidate from a major political party to announce to enter the race for White House. If elected in 2020, she could be the youngest and first woman to be elected as the US president.

An article in The Intercept last week led to a debate after it described Gabbard as “a polarising figure” whose “progressive domestic politics are at odds with her support for authoritarians abroad, including [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi, [Egyan President Abdel Fattah] Sisi, and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad”.

Gabbard has close links with the Bharatiya Janata Party. When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the US in September 2014, he made it a point to meet with the young legislator. When Gabbard got married the next year, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav flew in from India with a special message from Modi.