Louisiana Governor and U.S. presidential candidate Bobby Jindal caused a Twitter storm of jokes and insults in India on Thursday after he said he dislikes being called an Indian-American.
Republican Jindal is the first person of Indian origin to join the U.S. presidential race. During his campaign launch on Wednesday, Jindal said he was “done with” descriptions that identified Americans by their origin, ethnicity or wealth.
“We are not Indian-Americans, African-Americans, Irish-Americans, rich Americans, or poor Americans. We are all Americans,” the two-term governor said to loud cheers at the event in a suburb of New Orleans.
The comment, however, was interpreted by some people on Twitter as an attempt to distance himself from India.
The hashtag #BobbyJindalIsSoWhite recorded more than 6,400 tweets and was among India’s top trending topics on Thursday.
“#BobbyJindalIsSoWhite teacher used to use him as a chalk on board,” said one Twitter user named aindrila. Another user, Yusuf B, said: “#BobbyJindalIsSoWhite that we only see the outline of his body when he stands in front of a white wall.”
Jindal’s office could not be reached out of business hours on Thursday.
Some people also came out in Jindal’s support. “Strange, he is being ridiculed for his assertion of his Americanship,” Twitter user Rajiv wrote.
Jindal, who converted from Hinduism to Christianity as a teenager, is popular with social conservatives and evangelical Christians.
But he has struggled recently with a fiscal crisis in his state. He frequently ranks near the bottom end of opinion polls of Republicans seeking the party’s nomination in the 2016 election.
In January, Jindal made similar remarks and said his parents moved to America to be Americans.
“If we wanted to be Indians, we would have stayed in India,” Jindal said.
(Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Paritosh Bansal and Nick Macfie)