Carterpuri roots for Kerry

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By GAJINDER SINGH in Chandigarh
  • Published 1.11.04

Chandigarh, Nov. 1: As the US prepares to vote a new President tomorrow, a small hamlet in Haryana is silently praying for Democratic nominee John Kerry.

Chuma Kheragaon in Gurgaon was rechristened Carterpuri in 1978 after Jimmy Carter came calling with wife Roselyn. Since then, the Democrat legacy has continued in this village.

The couple was here to see the haveli of Mohammad Farz where the former President?s mother Lilian had once stayed before Partition, when she came as a social worker.

Then Prime Minister Morarji Desai had accompanied Carter and his wife.

While the Carters never came back, the villagers continue to keenly support the Democrats in every election.

Bill Clinton, however, gave Carterpuri the miss during his visit to India despite repeated requests from villagers.

Shopowner Kartar Singh, who used to be the postmaster, has preserved Carter?s letters.

?I very much appreciate the warm hospitality and friendship which you and all the people of Carterpuri extended to me when I visited your village. I have often referred to that visit since returning to America. It was without doubt one of the high points of my entire foreign travel and represented an experience I shall not soon forget. What I saw and heard from you and your friends and neighbours strengthened my conviction that regardless of our background and differences, all men and women share an aspiration for our freedom, dignity and a desire to improve our children?s lives. Please convey my thanks to all the villagers of Carterpuri for their efforts in making my stop successful and so personally satisfying,? a letter, dated January 24, 1978, reads.

Roselyn had also written to the villagers thanking them for their ?gracious hospitality?. She is remembered for mingling freely with the women and visiting their homes as the security agencies fretted.

The village celebrates January 3, the day of their visit, every year. A feast was organised when Carter was awarded the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.

Residents are grateful to the Carters for the little development the village has seen in the last 26 years.

They are rooting for Kerry because he is from Carter?s party.

?Special recitations of holy books have been arranged for his win. While he may have never heard of us, we will celebrate in case he wins. Woh hamara pratinidhi hai aur hamara rishtedaar bhi. America ka naam woh George Bush se zyaada roshan karega,? Avtar Singh, a resident of Carterpuri said.