It was “a dream come true” said Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday after spending an hour in the sea on a boat with fishermen off the coast here in Kerala.
He arrived in the seashore village near here and took off on the fishing boat. When he returned he said it has been on his bucket list for a long time to spend sometime with the fishers here. The Wayanad MP said he has been asking the leaders here to arrange for him to travel with the fisher folk.
“Right from the time I hopped into the boat, the travel on the high sea till the time I got out — it was all an experienced that taught me how difficult life is for a fisherman, who is engaged in a fight with the sea and finally the biggest profit is for someone else.
“I saw for myself when the net was cast and later pulled out, there was just one squid — I was expecting a net full of fish, but it was not to be,” said Gandhi, as he engaged in a direct interaction with thousands of fishermen who had turned up on the seashore to hear him.
“This one hour in the sea has made me respect you even more because your life is dangerous and risky and even though we all eat fish, not many think of the tough life that you have.
“First time I have realised the difficulties of yours to get the fish on others’ plate,” added Gandhi and asked the huge gathering of fisher folk to tell what they want.
Replying to a question on what the former Congress President’s plans were for the fisher folk, Gandhi said, “while the farmers have a dedicated ministry, the fishermen do not have”.
“I assure you that we will set up a dedicated ministry for looking after your needs. I will do my best to see how your life can be made easy.
“The Congress-led UDF here is now in the process of preparing a manifesto. I will ask the people engaged in preparing it to have a detailed conversation with you to know what you need and include it in the manifesto. Once included, I will assure you that it will be done,” added Gandhi.
To another question on the ill-effects of globalisation as a fisherman pointed out that it was during P.V.Narashima Rao’s tenure when international trawlers first made appearance here, Gandhi said it’s true that globalisation has ill-effects, but one should also look into the gains.
The question came on the back of state party leader Ramesh Chennithala trolling the Pinarayi Vijayan government for an MOU with US firm EMCC.
“While I was in the boat, I asked the fishermen, on how before the arrival of the fish finding device, they were fishing, they told me, it was difficult. I told them that with the arrival of the GPS, it has become easier to locate where they were in the sea.
“What we should do is wherever globalisation helps us, rely on it and where it does not, don’t use it,” said Gandhi.
He shared his conversation with one particular fisherman who was with him on the boat, who told him that he would not send his children to the seas, “as its risky business”.
“What our manifesto will do is to see that proper education facilities are provided to this community. We will also see what can be done to reduce the risk to the fishermen.
“I assure you that when the UDF-led Congress returns to power, we will definitely do everything that can be done and there will be a separate page in the manifesto on what we will be doing for the fishermen and it will cover all that you have raised here and what I saw for myself,” said Gandhi.
Gandhi who represents the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency has been in the state since Sunday and has in a way launched the assembly election campaign, as the polls are likely to be held in April/May. He has covered several parts of the state and has promised to return to lead the campaign leading up to the state polls.