New Delhi: Indian-Americans' political preferences seem to be shifting in favour of the Republican Party, particularly Donald Trump, its front runner for the White House.
According to social media trends, the US's third largest ethnic group is overwhelmingly supporting Trump -- a billionaire real estate businessman-turned-politician who has courted many controversies ever since he jumped into the fray.
Indians in the US have traditionally been the vote bank for the Democrats. According to a study, as many as 65 percent of Indian-Americans leaned towards Democrats, making them the Asian-American subgroup most likely to identify with the party.
But this time there has been a shift, arguably for the first time in the American electoral history.
Several groups of Indian-Americans, a majority of them Hindus, have taken the social media route to voice their support for Trump. As the 2016 presidential election draws closer, various online communities and pages have come up in support of the realtor.
One such page on Facebook is "Hindus For Trump". With around 750 "likes", the page in its description says: "American Hindus are model citizens, educated and industrious. We want a responsible nation where Americans are both safe and free."
The page portrays Trump as Hindu god Vishnu, making him seated on what looks like a lotus with "Om" written at its centre.
There is also a Political Action Committee (PAC), formed by leading Indian American businessmen to pool in support and contribution for an effective presidential campaign of Trump. PAC is a type of organisation that pools campaign contributions from members and donates those funds to campaign for or against candidates or legislations.
Indian-Americans For Trump 2016, one of the PACs supporting Trump, is formed by the members of the American-Hindu community, including Sudhir Parikh, who is the advisory chair for the organisation.
Parikh is the owner of Parikh World Media, an umbrella corporation which houses news outlets influential among Hindus such as Desi Talk, the Indian American and the Gujarat Times.
However, this is not the first presidential endorsement by Hindus for Trump. The world renowned and cross-sectional Indian American Intellectuals Forum (IAIF) endorsed him for the White House in August 2015 in its widely-circulated "India World Geopolitics" newspaper.
Although there has been a massive support for Trump from the Hindu community, a fraction of people from the Muslim community also seems to be supporting him, undeterred by his controversial remarks against the community.
Trump in one of his addresses said that "Islam hates us" and asserted that those having hatred against the US be denied entry into the country. He also called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on".
The Republican has also made scathing remarks against the immigrants in his addresses.
Indian-Americans are among the most highly educated racial or ethnic groups in the US, according to a Pew Research Centre study.
According to the study, Hindus make for 51 percent of 3.2 million Indian-Americans, while Christians and Muslims comprise of 18 and 10 percent respectively.
(Prashant Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)