Rahul interacts with fishermen in Kerala, sails with them on sea

PTI Kollam (Kerala) | Updated on February 24, 2021

Rahul Gandhi

Seeking to reach out to the fishing community in poll-bound Kerala, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday interacted with fishermen at Thangassery beach in the district.

Gandhi, who has been touring the state for the last two days, also ventured into the sea with the fisherfolk in their boats.

After beginning his journey from Vadi beach here by 4.30 am, he spent nearly an hour with them before reaching the venue of interaction.

He also cast the net and engaged in fishing along with them.

Clad in a blue t-shirt and khaki trousers, the Congress leader could be seen waving to onlookers from the boat.

AICC general secretary K C Venugopal and T N Prathapan M P, also chairman of the National Fishermen Congress, accompanied him during his sea journey.

During the interaction, Gandhi said he always wanted to experience the life of fishermen.

"Early this morning, I went to sea with my brothers. From the moment the boat went and came back, they took the entire risk... their entire labour. They sought to the sea, buy the net and somebody else gets the profit," Gandhi said.

"We tried to fish but got only one. Even with this investment, the net came back empty. This was my experience," he added.

Gandhi further said he would strive to have a separate ministry for fisheries at the Centre.

"So that the issues of fishing community can be defended and protected," he said adding that the UDF leaders in the state would soon hold discussions with the fisherfolk to prepare a separate manifesto for them during the impending assembly polls.

Taking a dig at the LDF government apparently over the ongoing controversy related to the alleged deep sea fishing contract, the Congress leader said he would like to see what they were going to do with the trawlers.

"I am for competition...but not for unfair competition. So, there should be a level playing field for everyone," he added.

Gandhi's interaction with the fishermen assumes significance as the Congress-led UDF had raised allegations against the Left government in the state over an alleged deep sea fishing contract with a US-based company.

In the wake of the controversy, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had directed the officials concerned to cancel the MoU between EMCC, the US-based firm, and the Kerala State Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC), a public sector undertaking, and to probe the circumstances under which it was signed.

Published on February 24, 2021

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