My dear family, friends, colleagues, students and well-wishers,
“Dattaram is everything that one longs for in an election that sends people to India's highest law making body – Parliament. He is committed to social issues: I have rarely found him absent from meetings called to discuss social campaigns or problems. Like Dr Oscar Rebello, he is a medical doctor very well known in Ponda, Kerim and Savio Verem.
“The villagers of Querim and Savio Verem taught us Goans courage of extraordinary quality. They crashed into the Du Pont property and demolished an entire building. In order to prevent access by the police, they dug up a one metre segment of the tarred road that led to the Du Pont plot. They prevented Du Pont's helicopter from landing thereafter. After Nilesh Naik, one of Dr Desai's close agitators was shot dead by police, Du Pont staff and security were escorted out of the town by Dr Desai's men and told to run, run, run and get out before any further harm came to them. Then the people invaded the offices of DuPont in Ponda and reduced everything to ashes, including batches of 500 rupee notes used to bribe officials.
“That's why I like this guy: difficult to hug him because he is too thin. We got some idea of his determination when Du Pont came calling, despite being told to stay away.
"Do you know that there was one single person – and that too a very young Goan woman – who played key roles in the popular Goan agitations that got rid of 18 Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in a single day; the agitation against the white elephant airport at Mopa; the Goa Bachao Andolan which revolutionized village level land use planning through the Regional Plan 2021; India Against Corruption, the Goenchea Xetcarancho Ekvott (Goan Farmer’s Union) and the Goenchea Ostoreacho Awaaz (Goan Women’s Voice)?
"Do you know that the same woman was also with the Vasco Khariawada protest against the attempt to displace fisher-folk from their traditional locations, and that she also helped organize the women vegetable vendors of Panaji market to form an association and secure their rightful space there?
"In your mind, you’re going to say, Wow! That’s the effect of Swati Kerkar on people. Swati is AAP's candidate for the south Goa Lok Sabha seat. I am doing the honours because I am convinced she is the country's political future.
"Swati sometimes shadows, sometimes over-shadows Dr Dattaram Desai’s activism in many ways. Both are jewels in the Goan crown. We Goans can be well and truly proud that we have come up with these two amazing, blemish-free, activist-candidates for Parliament who have shown in the past that they are capable of changing things.
"One cooked Du Pont’s goose. The other knocked the shit out of SEZ.
While the entire country in fact is still trying to get rid of SEZs, imagine conking 18 SEZs in a single day!
"Swati’s the only woman candidate nominated in this Lok Sabha election. Of course, she’s with AAP. And yes, none of the other candidates can match her record in organizing those significant political battles either. Or the coherence, clarity and passion of her speeches.
I saw her ramrod straight, at the AAP meeting in Panaji. She has not an inch of extra flab. She is spartan in her ways. She doesn’t go abroad (she doesn’t have the money). Many of her supporters have pooled in funds to make it possible for her to pay the security deposit which was needed to file her nomination: typical AAM ADMI heritage. She is not seen at socializing parties or fashionable malls.
"She did not ask for the South Goa Lok Sabha ticket. She was simply asked to take the challenge by all the activists, men and women, of South Goa because she represented the best this country can offer as a woman, as a speaker, as an activist, as someone who cares about injustice and simply can’t sleep if she sees it around.
"She has taken up the cases of a number of young victims of rape and molestation, including the investigation of a rape case involving a schoolteacher in which the victim committed suicide due to harassment. Nothing appears to faze her.
"This deadliness about social injustice issues, this fearlessness against odds, she has inherited from Shridhar Kerkar, one of our better known freedom fighters. But good news, she can smile as well.
One year (2003-04) in Goa, as editor of Gomantak Times, demonstrated to me the corruption of both the Parrikar-led BJP and numerous Congress governments.
Like my favourite song by John Lennon "Give Peace a Chance", I say, "Give AAP a Chance" in Goa.
Peace and love,
Pune, India; Monday, 7 April 2014.