Kerala

UDF manifesto to include fishers’ needs

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi   | Photo Credit: PTI

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has suggested that the United Democratic Front (UDF) prepare a manifesto for the fishing community.

Interacting with fishers at Thangassery here on Wednesday, he said: “We are currently in the process of making the manifesto of the UDF in consultation with different groups and communities about what they want. Yesterday [on Tuesday], I said that we need to have a fishers’ manifesto for the fishing community. I would like the fishers of Kerala and the UDF to have a conversation and decide what exactly they want in the manifesto.”

Request for discussion

Responding to the grievances related to paying 5% of the auction amount to the government, lack of breakwaters in some areas, and issues related to paying road cess, Mr. Gandhi said UDF leaders would study the problems and his role was to ensure that the fishers were not treated in an unfair manner.

Requesting the fishers to have a discussion with UDF leaders, he said: “If you want the 5% government commission withdrawn, put it in our manifesto and it will be done. Whatever is in that manifesto will be delivered to you and that is a promise. I want the manifesto to be your expression, I want the voice of fishers to be there.” He said the UDF manifesto is developing a version of the Nyay (Nyuntam Aay Yojana) scheme, introduced during the 2019 Lok Sabha election guaranteeing ₹72,000 per annum to every poor person. Having a Ministry dedicated to fishers tops his priority list for the community so that they can be defended and protected across the country. “Just like the farmers farm the land, you farm the sea. The farmers have a Ministry in Delhi, but you do not have one. No one speaks for you in Delhi,” he said.

Talking about the current controversy in connection with the alleged deep-sea fishing contract, Mr. Gandhi said he did not like any unfair situation. “I am for competition, but not for unfair competition. So, there should be a level-playing field for everyone. Every single day the fuel price goes up and you cannot buy an engine beyond a certain size. The boat cannot be maintained here, it has to be maintained somewhere else. At the same time, the government is trying to build trawlers that will destroy your life,” he said.

While observing that globalisation has widened the divide between rich and poor, he said it also had advantages. “Sonars for detecting fish and GPS are outcomes of globalisation, so we have to be clever with it. We have to take advantage of globalisation where it helps us and minimise the disadvantages. Right now corona has changed the world and we have to prepare us for a new paradigm,” he said.

Responding to the remarks, Union Power Minister R.K. Singh said there was already a separate Fisheries Ministry under Giriraj Singh. “It seems that no one has given information on the ministry to him [Mr. Gandhi]. Senior Congress leaders should correct him that there is already a Ministry and it is doing a lot of developmental work, Mr. Singh said. “He [Mr. Gandhi] had said the same thing in Puducherry.” (With ANI inputs)

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 1:40:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/fisheries-ministry-is-a-priority-rahul/article33925124.ece

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