Pratima Coutinho’s election as President of Goa Pradesh Youth Congress (GPYC) was indeed a vindication that hard and dedicated work pays as she achieved this milestone swimming against the tide with only her commitment to the organization and her work for it to rely upon.
The top leaders of the Congress Party in Goa, be it the Chief Minister Digambar Kamat or the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee President Subhash Shirodkar had a different candidate in mind. However, as it is said, that none can change what is destined, the candidate supported by the bigwigs was disqualified and Pratima got the chance to prove her mettle.
It was 12 years back that Pratima joined the GPYC by paying the membership fee of only Re. 1 when Vijai Sardessai was the GPYC President. Back then, she was the leader of the college’s cultural union and for the young 18 year old the Youth Congress was fascinating particularly since it would provide her the platform to carry on her social work.
Although her mother, a teacher by profession, who gave up her job to look after her three daughters, frowned upon her entry into a political organization, her father John Mendonca who was then the headmaster of St. Rita’s High School, Maina encouraged her. “I owe a lot to my father as it is he who always encouraged me to live my dreams,” says Pratima who also fondly remembers that her father always treated her like the boy of the family.
A born leader that she is, at the tender age of 20, she was appointed the General Secretary of GPYC and worked quite well with Guirish Chodankar the then GPYC President.
As soon as Pratima completed her law, she was appointed Chairperson of the Legal Cell of GPYC and this gave her an opportunity to interact with not only Youth Congress members in Goa but also other States. She represented Goa at various Youth Congress camps in Bangalore, Hyderabad and other places.
In fact, at one such camp called the Aam Admi Ka Sipahi held in Andhra Pradesh, she came to the notice of Gandhi family scion Rahul Gandhi after she addressed the gathering. She was elucidate and very concise in her speech and this impressed Rahul so much that he immediately directed that she be appointed at Vice President of GPYC.
Having the rich experience of working with Youth Congress members in Goa and also other States, Pratima has a definite plan for the Youth Congress under her leadership.
“I truly believe that the youth are the future of our country and that is why I want to motivate them to be active in social issues and causes,” she says while revealing plans to organize Youth Congress conventions in all the 40 assembly constituencies.
Using her own example where she has risen to the pinnacle of the organizational structure purely on the strength of her commitment and loyalty, she wants to galvanise the youth of Goa to join the Youth Congress in large numbers.
“I want the youth of Goa and the GPYC to take up the battle against corruption very seriously and that is my main agenda,” she asserts