WASHINGTON: Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon is well versed with Hinduism, is an avid reader of Gita and wants a deeper relationship with India, an Indian-American donor of US President Donald Trump has said.

“Contrary to the media’s portrayal of him (Bannon) being alt right and racist, he is totally the opposite. It’s 180 degrees. He is firm in his views. He is an avid reader of Gita, dharma, Hindu philosophy, India and (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi,” Chicago-based Shalabh ‘Shalli’ Kumar, founder and head of the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC), told Indian reporters during his latest visit to Washington last week.

Bannon, he said, “really appreciates what is happening in India under Modi’s leadership” and in general the United States where the country should go and how to reverse its fortunes from a decline in living standards, economy and defence, to have a reversal.

“Steve Bannon is going to play a major role. He is quite direct. He is not a politician or a diplomat. I describe him as Gen Patton of today,” said Kumar, who said he regularly meets the Chief White House Strategist, the last time being about a month ago.

Bannon, said to be the most powerful individual in the Trump Administration, believes that Hinduism is a very peaceful religion and Hindus are very peaceful and tolerant people, Kumar said.

“He is happy about the assertion of Hindus through this particular (Trump) campaign. He was a major player in organising Republican Hindu Coalition rally on October 15,” he said.

“He is a pretty good scholar on Dharma,” Kumar said, adding that Bannon’s knowledge about Hinduism is self-read from books.

“His views are identical to RHC on India-US relationship that they should be the best allies. There is every reason for US and India to be best allies,” he asserted.

Bannon, he said, has a very positive view of Prime Minister Modi, who is taking India on the path of development and is making attempts to get rid of bureaucracy in India.

“He has a strong clear view on fighting terrorism. He is very appreciative of the moves made by Prime Minister Modi,” Kumar said, giving an insight into the thinking of the Chief White House Strategist.

In a recent interview to Daily Beast, Kumar said he came in contact with Bannon during the presidential election campaign last summer.

The two interacted more frequently in the run-up to the October 15 rally of Trump to address the Indian American community.

According to daily, Kumar said he chatted with Bannon multiple times regarding the importance of a “nationalist economy”, Indian politics, and taking “tough stands against radical Islamic terrorism”.

“(Steve) had a clear philosophy that you could still be in nationalism, and still be a global power,” Kumar said.

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