Lieutenant governor-elect Aruna Miller speaks at a press conference earlier this month. Credit: Christine Zhu

While Miller was a popular candidate, she hasn’t been immune to outside skepticism. Miller and Moore have received criticism for allegedly accepting contributions from groups and individuals with alleged associations to Hindu nationalism, The Intercept reported last month.

Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva, is a political ideology seeking to establish the hegemony of Hindus. It has been, in some cases, associated with right-wing extremism and anti-Muslim sentiment, according to the Association for Asian Studies.

Gayatri Girirajan, a representative for South Asian Affairs with Peace Action Montgomery, said the concern is when Hindu nationalist groups get involved in American politics, it could lead to international allyship with groups that promote Hindutva goals. Peace Action Montgomery is a chapter of Peace Action, the nation’s largest peace organization which focuses grassroots advocacy to reduce violence in the world, according to its website.

“[Hindu nationalism] is really concerning for a lot of people; it doesn’t just affect people in India. It also affects vulnerable and marginalized communities in the United States. Whether it’s the Muslim community or any other vulnerable, marginalized community, these international affiliations are certainly going to be detrimental,” Girirajan said.

Miller said the campaign did not participate in fundraisers hosted by Hindu nationalists.

“Our campaign did our research. None of these people are Hindu nationalists,” Miller said. “Moving forward, I can tell you that we stand with the Muslim American community and we will do what‘s necessary to fight against any discrimination and bigotry aimed at them. I can tell you that as a legislator, I have always stood up for rights of the Muslim American community.”

Miller said she feels an unfair spotlight has been focused on her when it comes to these contributions because she is Indian-American and grew up in a Hindu-Christian household.

“The nature of politics is that it’s a conflict situation,” Miller said “The minute you decide to run, you automatically have people that are opposed to you, so they’re gonna throw everything and the kitchen sink at you. It’s unfortunate.”

Girirajan said as a Hindu person herself, she feels it’s fair to be for anti-Hindutva activists to be more critical of Miller because her Hindu background would give her more awareness and insight into Hindu nationalism.

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