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Teflon Thanedar: Indian American Congressman From Detroit Gets Away Tweeting ‘I Love the Big D’

Teflon Thanedar: Indian American Congressman From Detroit Gets Away Tweeting ‘I Love the Big D’

  • Nearly 100 days into office, the first-term congressman is endearing himself to his constituents not only with his work but with his quirky social media posts.

Any other politician would have gotten into deep trouble with the kind of tweet that U.S. Congressman Shri Thanedar representing Detroit, posted and deleted recently.

Inexplicably, even on Fox News has not gone to town attacking him for vulgarity.

With a photo of Detroit’s skyline, the Indian American tweeted with the caption, “I love the big D,” drawing more laughs than expressions of shock. No, the Tweet was not made by Adam Abusalah, the 22-year-old graduate student who serves as Thanedar’s communications director. It was the 68-year-old congressman himself.

“I did keep (the tweet) up for a while because it got a lot of attention and people did see his innocent side, but once (the jokes) started getting out of hand, I made the decision to delete it,” Axios quoted Abusalah as saying.

Thanedar nearing his first 100 days in U.S. Congress has been using social media to draw attention to himself and his 13th congressional district that includes Detroit and parts of Wayne County.

He has displayed a penchant for attracting attention by coining quirky sobriquets, much like the former president, but without malice. He recently tweeted and quickly deleted (again): “We all love Big Gretch!” referring to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The Tweet got over 75,000 likes and drew many responses, including “Don’t delete this congressman,” “We love your vibe,” and “Thanedar, how do I become as funny as you.”

Clearly, a Teflon Thanedar is in the making.

His social media savvy includes asking questions, playing chess and replying to memes, Axios reports.

A native of Belgaum in India, Thanedar came to the U.S. nearly penniless when he was 24. Ironically, he is constantly trying to fight the impression that he is a rich guy, which of course, he is. But he came from poverty working to support his family since he was just 14 years old.

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“I’m somebody not likely to be in Congress — I came here with nothing,” he is fond of saying.

Thanedar came to the U.S. in 1979 to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Akron, and there was no looking back. After working nights and weekends for $15 an hour at Chemir/Polytech Laboratories to learn the business, he struck it rich by buying companies and founding new ones.

It is, however, his connection to the underdogs that eventually helped him win over a poor and predominantly Black congressional district to win his place on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. His win in the district ended a “70-year streak of Black representation,” as Axios puts it.

A rich Indian American defeating three Black candidates in a majority Black district is no ordinary feat. After he won the primary, a shocked Black netizen tweeted: “With Shri Thanedar’s win, Detroit will not have a Black congressman for the first time in 70 years. However, it can be said with considerable certainty that he won the Black vote.”

Thanedar understands his responsibility toward his constituents. “This is your office, I am just here to serve,” he tweeted last month. The same message is now pinned to the top of his profile, Axios reported saying, the tweet also “pictures him next to a photo of his family, a drawing from his grandchild, and a large image of Malcolm X.”

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