Phalguni Patel and Ravi Bhalla, Indian Americans Ravi Bhalla and Phalguni Patel won their respective races in New Jersey in which they had been targets of anonymous flyers that sought to portray them as a terrorist and an outsider.
So,racist, hate flyers weren’t enough to stop them.
Elections were held on November 7 for the state executive, including governors, legislative, municipal and school boards in New Jersey and Virginia and for other state bodies, local boards, judicial bodies and vacancies in other states.
Ravi Bhalla, the elected mayorof Hoboken, New Jersey expressed joy saying, “Thank you for having faith in me, for having faith in our community, faith in our state, and faith in our country; this is what America is all about.”
He added, “We’ve been through a bruising campaign… but now is the time we come together and see who we can work with to bring this city forward.”
Phalguni Patel was elected to the education board of New Jersey’s Edison county.
Indian Americans, a community of about 4 million that is aggressively pursuing public office also scored other victories, including to two state senates: Manka Dhingra in Washington, whose victory flipped control of the senate to Democrats, and Vin Gopal in New Jersey.
Also in the winning list is Dimple Ajmera, elected to City Council, Charlotte, North Carolina.
Bhalla and Patel’s elections in New Jersey had drawn nationwide attention, in India as well as in diaspora communities across the world, in the wake of racist and hateful stereotypes about them.
Patel featured in a flyer headlined “Make Edison Great Again” alongside Jeremy Shi, a Chinese American seeking a second term on the school board. Their pictures were mock-stamped “Deport”. It asked to prevent them from “taking over our” school board. “Chinese and Indians are taking over our town! Chinese schools (these language learning school run over the weekend mostly)! Indian School! Cricket Fields! Enough is Enough!”
Doctored flyers surfaced attacking Bhalla, then a Hoboken councilman running for mayor. It said “Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town!” above his picture.
Sikhs have been targeted in the United States mistaken for West Asians, some of whom wear similar but not same kind of headgears, specially since September 11, 2001.