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He is Piyush, not Bobby

By Aziz Haniffa in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
November 16, 2003 08:59 IST
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At age 4, Piyush Jindal changed his name to Bobby; the change was inspired by a character in the 'Brady Bunch' TV show. Since then, Jindal, now 32, has always introduced himself as Bobby.

His change of name -- and a subsequent change of religion -- have been raked up, by sections of the community, as black marks against the man.

Officially, however, he remains Piyush; that is the name on his Louisiana driving license, which he used as identification while casting his own vote in Kenilworth, the Baton Rouge neighborhood he grew up in. And it was as Piyush that polling officials at Kenilworth Middle School in Baton Rouge had him listed.

Dressed in casual khakhi slacks, a blue-lined shirt and blue jacket, Jindal came to vote Saturday carrying his 21-month-old daughter Selia Elizabeth and accompanied by wife Supriya. Selia, who kept trying to get her father to jump the line, proved a big hit with the media and with the voters.

On emerging from the booth after casting his vote, Jindal said, "My daughter helped me vote for Bobby today; let's hope people did that across the state.

"Today is an exciting day, certainly for the Jindal family and, we think, also for the entire state of Louisiana."

Jindal told he was 'feeling very good, very confident' and that the 'campaign has gone very well'. He believed his campaign, wherein he focused on issues rather than personalities, had been a winner with the people. "I think it will be even more so tonight after the election results come in," he said.

Jindal's run has received the sort of national and international attention even mainstream politicians rarely achieve; he has been featured on ABC's 'Good Morning America', on CBS and PBS; magazines like Time and Esquire have run his profiles; the Wall Street Journal carried an op-ed piece by him in which he set out his agenda for Louisiana.

Asked about all the attention, Jindal said, "It's a great opportunity to send a message to the country, the entire world really, that it's a new day in Louisiana. That we are open for business. We want jobs and businesses. Take a second look at Louisiana.

"That it's not the same old politics. We've turned a corner. I think it's great for Louisiana. It will help us to attract jobs here."


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Aziz Haniffa in Baton Rouge, Louisiana