NEW YORK: California physician Ami Bera,whose parents came to the US from Gujarat in the 1950s, has become the third Indian American Congressman in US history.
Bera beat the sitting Republican Congressman Dan Lungren from Seventh Congressional District in California after the recount of the Nov 6 elections Friday.
In the process, Bera becomes the third US Congressman of Indian origin after Dalip Singh Saund and Bobby Jindal.
Saund had made history in 1956 when he was elected from 29th Congressional District comprising Riverside and Imperial Counties of California. The Punjab-born Saund went on to win in 1958 and 1960 as well.
Fifty years later, Bobby Jindal, the current Louisiana governor, became the second Indian-origin Congressman when he was elected to the House of the Representatives from Louisiana’s First Congressional district in 2004. He won again in 2006.
Because of his narrow 184-vote lead in the Nov 6 elections, 47-year-old Bera had to wait for the recount to clinch victory.
The recount showed Bera bagging 51.11 percent of the vote and Lungren 48.89 percent. In 2010, Lungren had defeated Bera to win the seat.
Conceding defeat, Lungren said, “I am satisfied that enough votes have been counted to determine that I will not be representing the citizens of the 7th Congressional District during the 113th Congress. It was a tough campaign and I accept the outcome.”
Congratulating Bera, he said, “I wish him well as he accepts this new challenge. It is my hope that Dr. Bera approaches Congress, as have I, with a humble heart, respect for the institution and a desire to perform his duties in the best interest of the people he represents and the country.’’
There were five other candidates of Indian origin who were contesting for the US Congress, but they all lost. These candidates are Syed Taj from Michigan, Upendra Chivikula from New Jersey, Ricky Gill and Jack Uppal from California, and Manan Trivedi from Pennsylvania.
With Bera’s victory, the huge Indian American physician diaspora now has a presence in the US Congress!
Bera, who lives in Elk Grove just south of the California capital of Sacramento, has been a prominent physician and educator of the area for the past 15 years. His wife is also a physician.