PUDUCHERRY: Wooing fishermen at Solainagar fishing village here, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday advised them to organize themselves and stand united to make themselves heard by the BJP government at the Centre.
Interacting with fishermen at the coastal village along with Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, he said that the central government is crushing all small and medium businesses as they want them to be controlled by big corporates. The Union government has brought in three farm laws which are causing the farmers tremendous pain, he said. The farmers are the backbone of the country and he considers fishermen as the farmers of the sea, he added.
The views of the Congress party are different, he said adding that the party wants to strengthen small and medium businesses which are the strength of this country. Demonetisation, GST and all others are to weaken the small businesses, he said. “What the Modi government wants is that one or two very rich people to control the sea, but Congress wants lakhs of fishermen to control it,” he said.
Responding to questions and grievances expressed by fishermen, the majority being women, on their education, livelihood and employment, Gandhi said that when he comes here next time, they should take him to the sea in their fishing boat so that he could understand their real problems. Then when he is in Delhi, he can understand what (difficulties) the fishermen feel at sea, said Gandhi.
Answering a question pertaining to the media not publishing the issues of the poor, Gandhi said the media is not owned by poor people and is an instrument of a few business houses, adding it is very important that poor people organize themselves. He pointed out that the Congress party has a system and structure in place through which they can represent their issues.
Gandhi claimed that the central government had given away Rs.1.5 lakh crores to the rich people in the country during COVID times as a gift, but when labourers going back home asked for bus or train tickets, they were not given these. The best reason for this is that poor people are not organized, he said.
He said that politicians will come and give a speech about their views and go away but do not listen to their problems, but for him what they think is more important than what he thinks.
Fishermen said they wanted a subsidy for fibre boats as given in Tamil Nadu, employment opportunities, protection of their coastal land as done for forest land among others. An elderly woman Alamelu wanted Gandhi to redress the issue of demonetization when he came to power, while another woman faulted Chief Minister V Narayanasamy (then an MP) for not visiting them during the tsunami and understanding their difficulties.
As he was leaving, fishermen requested Rahul Gandhi to eat food with them, but as he arrived here an hour late, he had to leave for the interaction with the students at Bharathidasan Government College for Women.
Earlier on arrival at the venue, he was given a rousing welcome by Parliamentary Secretary K Lakshminarayanan and his team of Congressmen who organised the interactive meeting.