Tulsi Gabbard Isn’t As Progressive As She Claims to Be

The presidential candidate’s silence toward Kashmiri Muslims is just one glaring flaw

Anjali Enjeti
Published in
5 min readSep 4, 2019
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) speaks during a forum on gun safety at the Iowa Events Center.
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) speaks during a forum on gun safety at the Iowa Events Center on August 10, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

DDemocratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard’s failure to qualify for the next debate birthed an immediate celebratory hashtag on Twitter: #TulsiDidntQualify.

Why? Despite her progressive stance on several issues, Gabbard continues to refuse to disavow Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party’s anti-Muslim violence in India, a secular nation and the most populous democracy in the world.

Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran, made history when she became the first American Samoan and first Hindu elected to Congress in 2012 to represent Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. On its face, her presidential platform seems progressive. She champions Medicare For All, an assault weapons ban, the end of fossil fuels, and abortion rights.

For several years, though, Gabbard demonized the LGBTQIA+ community. In December 2011, seven months after she declared her race for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, she experienced an about-face that shifted blame for her bigotry to her anti-gay upbringing. Gabbard also brazenly backs authoritarian dictators, like Syria’s Bashar Assad and Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and voted for a bill that would place harsh restrictions on Syrian and Iraqi refugees seeking asylum in the U.S.

This disturbing history is more than enough to justify condemnation of Gabbard’s candidacy. But her association with anti-Muslim right-wing extremists, specifically Modi, his political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and its Hindu nationalist parent organization, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), whose subscribers insist that Hinduism solely define India’s nationhood (to the great detriment of its religious minorities) warrant a much closer look.

MModi’s cruel tactics against the Muslim minority in India began well before his 2014 election to Prime Minister. In 2002, as Chief Minister to the state of Gujarat, he looked the other way as Hindu nationalists slaughtered the Muslim minority, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,000 people. For her part in Congress, Gabbard ensured the quick demise of House Resolution 417



Anjali Enjeti
Writer for

Journalist, critic & columnist at ZORA. Essay collection SOUTHBOUND (UGA Press) & debut novel THE PARTED EARTH (Hub City Press), spring ’21.