Washington, November 23 (BBC): US President-elect, Donald Trump has named South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as US ambassador to the UN, US media reports.
Nikki Haley whose original name is Nimrata Randhawa, was born in a family of Sikh migrants from the Punjab in India, but is now a Christian married to a non-Sikh American.
Known as Nikki Haley, she is the first non-white female cabinet-level official appointed within the Trump administration. But Haley had been a vocal critic of Trump on the campaign trail.
The 44-year-old has been characterized as a rising star within the Republican party and is the youngest governor in the US.
Although she eventually voted for Trump, the Governor had lamented she was “not a fan” of either him or rival Hillary Clinton.
Haley endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio during the Republican primaries, later throwing her support behind Senator Ted Cruz – Trump’s final rival before he became the party’s nominee.
Born Nimrata “Nikki” Randhawa, Haley is the first minority and female governor of South Carolina, a deeply conservative state with a long history of racial strife.
She took a public stand against resettling Syrian refugees in South Carolina and also opposed President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.
Earlier this month, Haley was elected vice chair of the Republican Governors Association, paving the way to becoming chairman of the group in 2018.
The Indian-American, who is in her second and final term as Governor, was elected in 2010, riding the wave of the Republican Tea Party with the support of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
Prior to becoming the state’s chief executive, she served six years as a member of the state’s House of Representatives. Haley, who was raised in a Sikh household and now identifies herself as a Christian, is married to Army National Guard Capt Michael Haley and has two children.
Haley attracted national attention last year when she asked the state legislature to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol following a racially-charged massacre that left nine people dead at a Charleston church.
The state has long wrestled with its connection to the divisive flag, which is considered by many as a symbol of racism.
“Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it is time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds,” she said at a news conference.
“One-hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come.”
Though she had previously supported preserving the flag’s symbolism of Southern Heritage, the governor signed a historic bill requiring its removal and the flag was taken down in July.
In January she was praised by Republicans for her rebuttal to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, in which made pointed remarks which appeared to criticize Trump.
The Governor said: “during anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation”.
Mrs Haley also confronted the then-frontrunner’s call to temporarily ban Muslims from the country, adding: “no one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country”.
Trump lashed out by calling the governor “very weak on immigration” and tweeting she was a embarrassment to the state.
She responded in a tweet : “Bless your heart”, which is often viewed as condescending dismissal in the US South.