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Indo-American Upendra Chivukula to run for US Congress

March 28, 2012 08:55 IST
Deputy Speaker of New Jersey State Assembly and prominent Indian-American politician Upendra Chivukula is all set to run for the United States House of Representatives in the ensuing national elections slated for November.

Chivukula, 61, has been the member of New Jersey state assembly since 2002 and its deputy speaker for the last five years. The Democratic Party leader represents the state's 17th Legislative District of Somersett.

Leonard Lance, a Republican, was elected to the House of Representatives in 2008 and re-elected in 2010 to represent New Jersey's 7th Congressional district elections, to be held on November 6, are due for another two-year term.

Upendra holds the proud distinction of being the first Indian-American elected to the New Jersey Legislature, and only the fourth Indian-American to be elected to a state legislature.

"There are a lot of factors favourable in my side. Incumbent Lance is facing a primary challenge within the party and no one knows who will get the nomination. New towns have been added to the district changing the demography thanks to the reorganisation of districts. Moreover, Lance had moved to right of center in his policies that has angered many voters and created a strong displeasure in the community," Chivukula told PTI.

He said major state Democratic organisations was supporting him and he does not anticipate a primary challenge. Prior to his tenure in the state Assembly, Chivukula served on the Franklin Township Council from 1997 to 2005. He was elected mayor there in 2000 after serving as deputy mayor in 1998.

"America is a great country. It gave an opportunity for an immigrant like me," said Andhra Pradesh-born Chivukula, who came to the US when he was 24, to pursue his education.

"America has been a great home for me, and our country has been at the top for many, many years. Unfortunately, the country us facing many challenges that affect the middle class. In the Capitol, there are far many people who are obstructionist rather trying to solve the problems facing Americans."

He said he will focus on improving health care, education, jobs and environment, adding, "We can find ways to solve issues not sit back and criticise".

America is a country of entrepreneurship, he said, and an engineering marvel that no one can match.

"As an engineer, I can bring a track record as a problem-solver to bring Congress new ideas to the forefront to create jobs."

Chivukula said he will look to promote green technology for energy such as solar and offshore wind to reduce dependency on foreign oil over the long haul. He also said he would focus on environmental issues and is a supporter of cap-and-trade policies to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

If elected to US Congress, Chivukula will be the third Indian-American to occupy the position after Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Dalip Singh Saund (1899-1973) who was a member of the US House of Representatives from the 29th District of California.

Chivukula is currently chair of the telecommunications and utilities committee and vice chair of the Homeland Security and state preparedness committee. He also serves on the transportation, public works and independent authorities committee.

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