Rahul Gandhi meets cyclone Ockhi victims in Kerala, TN
Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi today visited fishing villages in Kerala and Tamil Nadu which were hit by cyclone Ockhi earlier this month and declared that the time had come to set up a separate Ministry of Fisheries at the Centre to look after their interests.
He declared that the Congress, when voted back to power at the Centre, would set up a Ministry of Fisheries that would the difficulties and problems faced by fishermen could be dealt with quickly and immediately.
Mr. Gandhi offered his condolences to the families which had lost their loved ones in the tragedy and spent time with several of them as they talked about their pain and sorrow. "What you have lost cannot be measured in terms of value. So, my words are not going to replace what you have lost," he said.
He said he would have liked to come here earlier but he had commitments in poll-bound Gujarat which could not be cancelled. "Even though I was not here in my physical presence, my mind and spirit were here with you," he said.
Mr. Gandhi said it was very important that the Government and the people learnt from the disaster and set up systems to prevent the recurrence of such tragedies.
"We also expect the Government to offer compensation to everybody who has lost in this tragedy. It is the duty of the Congress, as the Opposition, to put pressure on the Government to ensure everyone who has lost gets adequate compensation. I am confident they will play this role," he said.
Mr. Gandhi said that, in many ways, farmers and fishermen across the country faced similar situations.
"It is very difficult for them to make a living. It seems everything is aligned against them. At the national elvel, faremrs have a Ministry that protects them and looks after their interests. I think it is time that fishermen also have their Ministry at the Centre so that their difficulties can be dealt with quickly and immediately. The Congress is committed to providing a Ministry for fishermen when elected to power at the Centre," he said.
Mr. Gandhi, who flew in here form Delhi, visited some of the worst-affected villages such as Poonthura, Vizhinjam, Thaikkad and Palayam in Kerala and Chinnathurai in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.
Senior State Congress leaders, including former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala and Dr. Shashi Tharoor, the Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram, accompanied Mr. Gandhi on the visit to the Kerala villages.
"Very good visit by Rahul Gandhi to two coastal villages in Thiruvananthapuram. People were touched by his directness & evident empathy during deeply moving conversations with bereaved families," Dr. Tharoor said on micro-blogging site Twitter.