ALAPPUZHA: Last week, Vattayal - a coastal hamlet in Alappuzha Assembly constituency - a thickly populated fishermen colony where a makeshift stage has been erected for AM Ariff, LDF’s Alappuzha candidate.
Some party workers are decorating the premises with red flags. Revolutionary songs are being played out through speakers arranged beside a seawall that protects the several hundred households from marauding waves.
Ashokan, 64, Rupesh, 48, and PV Madhu, 57, were seated on the sea wall discussing something. They were discussing the fishers’ pathetic state in the locality. “After ‘Ockhi’ the sea is empty. Though we go out to the sea everyday, there is hardly a good catch. On most of the days, we net fish worth only Rs 1,500-2,000. This has to be divided equally among the four-member crew which is inadequate to meet the daily needs.
The state and Centre do not listen to our pleas. In electiontimes, they flood us with promises. But once the elections are over, they forget all about the promises made and we suffer,” said a desperate sounding Ashokan. Madhu, who intervened, said the LDF Government distributed boats and nets to fishermen. Ashokan replied, “It’s ok, but the houses provided after the 2004 tsunami are now in a pathetic state. The house were allotted by the UDF. The LDF did not do anything for the welfare of fishermen.”
Ashokan and Madhu, both fishermen hailing from Vattayal, agree the political parties bombard voters with promises during elections. But they purposefully forget everything after election. Neither the UDF, LDF or the NDA has done anything for improving the lot of fishermen or marginalised sections. “We are born into debt and die in debt,” Ashokan said.
Sandwiched between the Arabian sea and the Vembanad lake, the 115 km- long Alappuzha Lok Sabha constituency, provides a real picture of the marginalised fishermen community. The dwindling catch and price slump are the major election issues for the fishers. Ramakrishnan hailing from Vattakeri, Aroor, said Ariff will perform well in the Assembly segment. “KC Venugopal MP also tried to bring in development to the constituency.
The LDF Government does injustice to the people in the name of Sabarimala. It will reflect in the election. All fronts forgetting marginalised people after election. Thousands of employees working in prawn peeling industry in Aroor are in dire straits. Low wages and unhygienic working conditions make their life miserable. So the election will reflecr the workers’ resentment.