September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document


Article Order:4

Title:Aishwarya makes Patakis fundraiser more lively

Author:Shakti Bhatt

Publication:India Abroad

Original Language:English





Body:Sorry, no press allowed, said the man outside Shaan restaurant.

The event was a cocktail and dinner party in honor of Gov. George Pataki, seeking a third term in the Nov. 26 gubernatorial election on the Republican ticket.

We debated the need for press presence. The hassled event manager, who claimed the governors office had left strict instructions to keep the media out, relented.

Just try and be invisible, he instructs. And please, please dont ask anybody any questions!

Organized by New York-based diamond magnate Andy Shenoy, the fundraiser, which according to Shenoy raised between $60,000 and $80,000, was indicative of the attempt by Indian Americans in New York City to acquire a credible voice in public policy.

The whos who of Indian American businessmen and women demonstratedwhile sipping vodka and nibbling at chicken tikkatheir support for the Republican Party, which has been actively seeking to espouse the immigrant community, a section of voters historically wooed by Democrats.

As Indians go up the economic scale, they tend to support Republicans, observed a community leader from Queens.

Shenoys guest list was unique. Unlike an earlier fundraiser held for Democratic challenger Carl McCall by Asian Americans (Indian Abroad, Oct. 18), where most present were avowed Democrats, the invitees here did not necessarily share Patakis political affiliations.

As the guests were seated at their respective tables, Sandy Treadwell, chairman of the N.Y. Republican Committee, asked how the Republican Party hoped to attract an electoral segment traditionally ignored and sometimes resented, answered, That is actively changing. Right now, the core beliefs of our party match the needs of immigrant communities. We are for lower taxes, creating jobs, safer streets by being tough on crime and a smaller and smarter government.

Let me tell you about an amazing statistic, said Treadwell. People who look like me [meaning white Americans] make up 70 percent of Americas population today. In the next 100 years, that will be 30 percent. This is terrific, because this is really what energizes our country. The immigrants are an important emerging community.

Clamorous Bollywood music played in the background as Patakis arrival was announced. Donors rushed to get their picture taken with the governor, who patiently obliged.

The absence of a united front to barter effective political concessions is evident in the fact that next week, Dr. Deepak Nandi will host another fundraiser at his home in Old Westbury. According to Shenoy, he tried to convince Dr. Nandi to hold a combined party but the latter refused.

Our fundraiser will be exclusively for physicians, Dr. Nandi said on the phone. The one held this week was mostly for businessmen. But these [Nandis guests] will be educated groups. We will have professors from Cornell, Columbia, you know, the intellectual class.

Shenoy, meanwhile, was determined to make the evening a success, even if he had to do it alone. How I look at it is that the community, no matter what their political affiliations, should get the benefit out of this event. It is a great chance to develop our relations and do some networking, he said.

Aishwarya Rai, Indias globally marketed pretty face, was a guest of honor. Glamorous in a bright pink sari and golden string blouse, Rai favored the visibly enamored governor with flattering smiles.

As the emcee announced, in shrill tones of excitement, the grand arrival of Indias beauty queen, a girl dressed in a raunchy ghaghra choli broke into an elaborately choreographed dance to the strains of Nimbooda, Rais much touted hit dance number from the movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.

This is why no one takes us seriously, said the same Democrat activist from Queens. Can you imagine something like this at a Jewish fundraiser?

The dance, Shenoy said, was planned to make the atmosphere more lively.

As the clearly stressed host approached the podium, he thanked the governor for his contribution in reducing the crime rate and taxes. The quality of life for immigrants is much better now than any other time, said Shenoy, crediting the administration also for its role in encouraging small businesses.

It is less than seven days to the gubernatorial election and Pataki is said to have gathered an impressive $9 million, while the treasure chest of his State Comptroller rival boasts no more than one million dollars.

Extolling the Indian community for their professionalism and entrepreneurship, Pataki gave a short speech that lasted less than 10 minutes. He promised to bring business back to the Big Apple and awarded special thanks to Neville Bugwadia, vice president and deputy commissioner involved in the Empire State Development program initiated by the state government post-September 11th.

Patakis speech, which seemed largely extempore, ended with an expression of sympathy for the victims of the recent terrorist attack on the Swaminarayan temple in Akshardham, Gujarat. He promised the community that he would, if re-elected, engage in a cultural mission to India.

Shenoy garlanded the governor. The guests cheered.

We tend to get too emotional, said Satish K. Babbar, commissioner for technical affairs at New York Citys Department of Buildings.

We should have kept the entertainment aside and just concentrated on what we are here for.

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