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President-elect Joe Biden
President-elect Joe Biden

Biden’s Mumbai link is an unsolved mystery

  • In 1972, a ‘Biden from Mumbai’ had sent a letter to Joe, saying they were related to each other
  • Biden, then 29, wanted to follow up on the letter and get in touch with the sender of the letter

NEW DELHI: If you think US vice president-elect Kamala Harris is the only one with an India connection, think again. US president-elect Joe Biden, too, seems to have one, though it is not as well established as is the case with Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants.

When Biden was elected as one of the youngest US senators in 1972, one of the first letters that he received was from Mumbai—the sender having the same last name as his, news reports said on Monday. A PTI report in July had also given similar details.

And about five years ago, Biden learned that there were five Bidens living in Mumbai. But to date, he is yet to make a connection with them.

In 1972, a ‘Biden from Mumbai’ had congratulated Biden on his election and told him that they were related to each other. Biden, then 29, wanted to follow up on the letter and get in touch with the sender. However, his family and active life in politics meant that this wish remained a wish, something he still wants to fulfil nearly five decades later, the report added.

The wish may have remained unfulfilled, but the 77-year-old never misses a chance to narrate the ‘Biden from Mumbai’ story when he meets Indian-Americans and Indian leaders. He assures them that he too has an India connection, however, distant it might be.

Biden’s Mumbai connection was narrated by himself during a visit to the city in 2013. In an address to the Bombay Stock Exchange on 24 July 2013, the then vice president went off-script to narrate the ‘Biden from Mumbai’ story.

“It’s an honour to be back in India and to be here in Mumbai. Off-script for a second here, I was reminded—I was elected to the US Senate when I was a 29-year-old kid back in 1972, and one of the first letters I received, and I regret I never followed up on it. Maybe, some genealogist in the audience can follow up for me, but I received a letter from a gentleman named Biden—Biden, my name—from Mumbai, asserting that we were related," Biden had told the audience amid peals of laughter, the PTI report said.

“Seriously. Suggesting that our mutual, great, great, great something or other worked for the East India Trading Company back in the 1700s and came to Mumbai," Biden had then said in his speech.

“And so I was thinking about it, if that’s true, I might run here in India for office. I might be qualified (to run for elected office in India). But I’ve never followed up on it (the letter from Biden from Mumbai)," Biden had told the audience.

In 2015, during another speech in Washington, Biden recalled his India connection again.

Biden said that a day after his Mumbai speech, a journalist gave him a list of five Bidens living in Mumbai.

“The next day the press, I guess trying to prove that I was probably making this up—because I never followed up. It was right after I got elected, and then some things happened in my family, and I never followed up. One reporter stood up and gave me the names of five Bidens in Mumbai," he said. “So, show me more respect," Biden told the Washington audience while underlining his Indian connect.

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