This Article is From Nov 03, 2010

Nikki Haley: On brink of political superstardom?

Washington: From a state legislature to governor of South Carolina in just a short span of six years in politics, Nikki Randhawa Haley, is being hailed as a new rising star on the American political horizon. (Read: Amritsar's Nikki Haley is S Carolina Governor)

Daughter of Punjabi Sikh immigrants from Amritsar, Namrata Nikki Randhawa Haley, who has become the first Indian origin woman to become the governor of a US state has been propelled to centre stage of American politics after her baptisation into politics in 2004.

She is the second Indian-American leader after Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisina, to have caught the attention of the Americans.

It has not all been smooth sailing for the tall Haley, mother of two children, son Nalin, 9, and daughter Rena, 12 as she had to overcome allegations of extra-marital affairs and racial digs in her race to become the first Asian woman to don a US governorship.

Months before she announced her intention to run for the gubernatorial assignment, Nikki, 38, was little known on the American national horizon, but she turned the tables on her democrat rivals by winning endorsement from political heavyweights like the former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and another top Republican leader Mitt Romney.

In a roller-coaster ride to governor's chair, Nikki, as she has popularly come to be known, has also the rare distinction of appearing on the cover of the Newsweek.

She fought a tough battle in the primaries as also in the final run for the governorship receiving 52 per cent of the polled votes as against her Democratic rival Vincent  Sheehan, who polled 46 per cent.

The much expected victory did not come before giving some anxious moment to Haley and her campaign.

For some portion of the counting of votes, Haley was trailing, and then running neck-to-neck with Sheehan before she took a handsome unbeatable lead.

Despite initial hiccups, when she was little known outside South Carolina, Nikki appeared confident way back in June 2009.

 "I know, I am going to make this happen. I am going to win the race," Nikki told Press Trust of India in an interview at the Capitol Hill in June 2009, where she attended a luncheon fund raising event for her organised by the Indian American Republican Political Action Committee.

 "My parents are extremely proud. My husband is very supportive. My children are excited. My siblings are willing go out work for me," she said.

 "When I started to see issues, they (parents) were the first cheer leaders to do this," she said.

When asked of the increasing trend that in the last couple of years a large number of young Indian Americans like her are coming forward in politics, she said: "I think, Indian
American issues are American issues. We want to get involved earlier because we realise that what is happening in government, will affect us and our children."

"I think more young people need to get involved."

Briefing about her agenda and issues, Nikki said her goal would be to rein in spending and to provide jobs to people in State, to try and improve education, and make health care accessible in South Carolina.

In 2004, Nikki was the first Republican Indian American to win a State House seat.

She is recognised as a pro-business leader in the fight for lower taxes and less government, as well as an outspoken advocate for added accountability in the legislature.

In 2008 Representative Haley was sent back to the statehouse with 83 per cent of the vote  the highest percentage earned by any lawmaker facing a contested South Carolina election that year.

She won the Republican Party nomination for governor of South Carolina on Tuesday, June 22, 2010. Her time in Columbia has been marked by conservative leadership and an unwavering commitment to the taxpayers' bottom line.

 She has fought wasteful spending at every turn, pushed for smaller, more efficient government, and led the fight for the accountability and transparency that before her arrival was sorely lacking in the Legislature.

Born in Bamberg, South Carolina, Nikkis first job was keeping the books for her family's clothing store at the age of 13.

 She went on to graduate from Clemson University with a BS degree in accounting and following her graduation worked as Accounting Supervisor for the Charlotte, North Carolina based corporation FCR, Inc. and five of its subsidiaries.

 Nikki then went back to the family business where she helped oversee its growth into a multi-million dollar operation.