WASHINGTON — Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, who is an avid reader of the Gita and well versed in Hinduism, wants a deeper relationship with India, an Indian American donor of President Donald Trump has said.

“Contrary to the media’s portrayal of (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, told Indian reporters during his latest visit to Washington, D.C.

Bannon, Kumar 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 defense, 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 added 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 organizing the Republican Hindu Coalition rally on Oct. 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-U.S. relationship that they should be the best allies. There is every reason for U.S. and India to be best allies,” he asserted.

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