Young NY Bangladeshis join hands to build political muscle

Brajesh Upadhyay, Washington
Published : 10:00, Nov 16, 2019 | Updated : 10:00, Nov 16, 2019

New York city. REUTERS/FILE PHOTOA group of politically active Bangladeshi-Americans in New York City have joined hands to launch what they call is a “voting bloc” that will help and campaign for candidates who advocate and protect the community’s interests.
The launch of Bangladeshi-Americans for Political Progress (BAPP) comes at a time when a record number of candidates of Bangladeshi descent are running for political office in New York and other parts of the US.
The group says its mission is to educate community members about political process, register new voters and enhance electoral participation. The focus will be on issues like immigration and housing, which have a direct impact on the community.
The immediate response seems to be encouraging and messages of support have poured in from other progressive organisations too.
“The Bangladeshi American community is a force to be reckoned with,” tweeted Linda Sarsour, a prominent NY-based Muslim activist.
A group supporting Bernie Sanders, one of the leading Democratic presidential candidates for the 2020 elections, issued a statement of support saying: “This is the kind of political revolution that Bernie Sanders is talking about”.
Bangladeshi-born immigrant population is one of the fastest growing community in New York and the City is home to the largest Bangladeshi community in the United States.
While the community has traditionally supported Democrats, the younger generation is leaning more and more towards the party’s progressive wing.
The trend was most visible last year, when the community came out in large numbers to support Democratic Party’s progressive wing star, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.
Her victory seems to have inspired several others from within the community to run for office. One of them is Shahana Hanif, who is running for a seat in the New York City Council.
“Bangladeshis are everywhere in NYC. Recent electoral wins are a result of the Bangladeshi voting bloc,” said Hanif.
“BAAP is the coming together of Bangladeshi organisers across this city to advance our electoral power,” she added.
For now, the group will focus much of its efforts on the Queens, Bronx, and Brooklyn neighbourhoods which have a sizable Bangladeshi presence. It could, however, also serve as a template for Bangladeshi communities in other parts of the US.