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Indian-American Bera to get training from opponent

United States America,Diaspora, Tue, 13 Nov 2012 IANS

Washington, Nov 13 (IANS) California physician Ami Bera, who may or may not become the third Indian-American to be elected to the US Congress, is in Washington to learn the tricks of the parliamentary trade - from his opponent.

Democrat Bera leads his Republican opponent Dan Lungren by almost 1800 votes in the race for the Seventh Congressional District in California, but officials still need to count about 70,000 outstanding absentee and provisional ballots before the results can be declared.

But the less than one percent margin qualifies Bera to join the orientation sessions for the newly-elected members of the US House of Representatives and start the arduous process of hiring staff, securing choice committee assignments and scoring office space.

The twist is Bera will get direct on-the-job training from the very man he is poised to defeat as Lungren is chairman of the House Administration Committee and responsible for orienting new members. Lungren plans to return to Washington and attend to his official duties this week regardless of the outcome, Washington Post reported citing his aides.

"I think it will be interesting," said Bera who flew in from Sacramento Monday of the prospects of sitting through orientation sessions led by his opponent.

"I've not talked to Lungren since the election, so it'll be my first chance to shake his hand," he was quoted as saying.

If he wins, Bera in many ways embodies the makeup of this year's freshmen class and the continued diversification of House Democrats, a caucus that for the first time will be dominated by women and minorities, the Post said.

The son of Indian immigrants, Bera would be just the third Indian-American elected to Congress, after Dalip Singh Saund in 1952 and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who won a House seat in 2004.

Bera plans to begin hiring staff this week and told the Post he hopes his committee assignments somehow relate to his background as a physician and his family ties to India.

He noted that at least one-third of the House will have less than three years of congressional experience when they convene in January - giving members a unique opportunity to get to know each other and learn together.

"A lot of what we saw in my race and across the country is that voters want the parties to work together," he was quoted as saying. "I hope we can start doing that this week."

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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