Thrissur (Kerala): Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday again lashed out at the Narendra Modi government on the sensitive land issue, saying that it had "taken away the land of the farmers, which is like a mother to them, and given the same to its friends and corporates".
"Likewise, they (government) have taken away the sea from the fishermen now and is in the process of handing it over to the corporates who own big trawlers," Gandhi said while addressing a well-attended rally of fisherfolks living near the Chavakkad beach.
"The reason they give is that the fishermen are not effective; so trawlers are needed. Today (Wednesday) morning, I visited a fisherfolks' colony before coming here. A colony resident told me that there are only two options for them: Commit suicide or fight back," said the Congress leader.
"I assure you that I as well as the Congress are with you and in no way will allow your rights to be taken away," Gandhi asserted while telling the audience that the Congress was getting ready to form a national organisation for fishermen.
"When I return (to Delhi), I will speak to Congress president Sonia Gandhi about the need for setting up a national organisation for the fisherfolks," he promised the rallyists.
The Congress leader went around the fishermen's colony here before arriving for the meeting, and heard the grievances of its residents. He was accompanied by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and state Congress chief V.M. Sudheeran.
Speaking at the public meeting, Chandy said that when Gandhi was told about the woes of residents of the fishermen's colony, where he visited 52 families, the Congress vice president gave him (chief minister) a look.
"I knew what he meant when he looked at me. After speaking to the minister of state for fisheries, we decided to build new houses for those whose houses are in bad shape. Also, we have decided to give Rs.50,000 each to those whose homes need repairs. Also, we will take care of health needs of fisherfolks living in the colony," said Chandy, drawing applause from the audience.
Gandhi arrived on a two-day visit to Kerala on Tuesday. After his return from Kochi later in the day, his last meeting would be with the representatives of farmers' organisations.
Meanwhile, the state Congress leadership is in a bouyant mood as the numbers of people present at Tuesday's Youth Congress rally were impressive.
Sources told IANS that the Gandhi family scion was expected to visit the state more frequently in times to come since Kerala is set for local bodies' elections this year and assembly elections next year.