"Farmers farm the land and you (fishermen) farm the seas. Farmers have a ministry in Delhi, you don’t. First thing I would like to do is have a ministry dedicated to fishermen of our country. So your issues can be defended and protected across the country," Rahul Gandhi said.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in Kerala
Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi appeared to have tweaked his demand from a separate ministry for fisheries to now a dedicated ministry for fishermen. Speaking in Kerala, Gandhi today said that he would like to create a ministry dedicated for fishermen. “Farmers farm the land and you (fishermen) farm the seas. Farmers have a ministry in Delhi, you don’t. First thing I would like to do is have a ministry dedicated to fishermen of our country. So your issues can be defended and protected across the country,” he said.
He, however, did not elaborate how the ministry would be different from the one already existing — Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.
Gandhi’s remarks come just days after he said the fishermen need a separate ministry in Delhi. The statement evoked sharp response from the BJP and some union ministers who said that a ministry for fisheries already exists and that Gandhi was not aware of it. However, later it emerged that Gandhi was aware of the ministry and he had sought some details about the progress from the ministry.
The Ministry of Fisheries was formed in May 2019. Now, Gandhi says that a separate ministry dedicated to fishermen is required in the country.
Interacting with fishermen in poll-bound Kerala, Gandhi said that the Congress was currently in process of making the UDF manifesto. “We are having consultations with different groups, communities about what they want in the manifesto. Yesterday in our meetings I said we need to have a dedicated fishermen’s manifesto,” he said.
The Wayanad MP further said that he would like the fishermen of Kerala, Congress party and UDF to have a conversation over next 2-3 weeks to decide exactly what fishermen wanted in the UDF manifesto. “If you want the 5 per cent tax withdrawn, put it in our manifesto and it will be done. My guarantee to you is that whatever is in the manifesto, we will deliver to you. I want the manifesto to be your expression. On one page, I want fishermen’s voices to be there,” the Congress leader said.