US Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Devi Harris is a household name in Thulasendrapuram, a village in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvarur district. This remote village where Kamala’s maternal grandfather, PV Gopalan Iyer, was born is rooting for the Democratic Party to win because of the family connection. Banners portraying Kamala are erected in various corners of the village. Confident of Joseph R Biden and Kamala’s win, sweets and firecrackers have been set aside for the celebration.
Born to an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, Kamala positions herself as a coloured American, thus striking a chord with both African-American and Indian-American voters.
Although Kamala was in the race to be the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, two-time Vice President Joe Biden secured the nomination and chose Kamala as his running mate, making her the first candidate of Indian descent to be on a US presidential ticket.
Hours ahead of the US presidential election, people living in and around Thulasendrapuram gathered at the village’s Shri Dharmasastha Temple to offer special prayers for her victory. A feast of idli and sambar, dishes said to be a favourite of Kamala’s, was served to the gathering after the prayers. A stone plaque in the temple has Kamala's name engraved besides those of many other donors, acknowledging her contribution of Rs 5,000 in 2014.
Kamala’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan, who moved to the US for graduate school, often visited their family in India with Kamala. In her autobiography, Kamala recounts the influence her grandfather, a civil servant, had on her.
However, while Thulasendrapuram may lean Democrat in this election, President Trump has firm supporters in India, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Hindu Sena organised a yajna for Trump in New Delhi. The group says it wants Trump to be re-elected in order to keep Pakistan and China in check.
Addressing Americans as they headed to polls, Kamala wrote on Twitter, “We cannot afford four more years of Donald Trump.”
In a separate message she said. “Today we must vote like our lives depend on it. Because they do. We must vote like our democracy depends on it. Because it does. And we must vote like justice, equality, and opportunity are possible. Because they are.”