Nagercoil (TN), Sep. 8 (ANI): Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday had an hour-long interaction with the fishermen community of Tamil Nadu, and he promised to take up their woes with the Centre.
Gandhi is on a three-day Tamil Nadu tour, aimed at rejuvenating the Congress at the grass-roots level.
Soon after his arrival, Gandhi had a closed-door meeting attended by about 1,500 members of the fishermen community, including 200 women.
"It was a really great experience since this was the first time that an important politician is coming to us to have a patient hearing of our grievances," 35-year-old Mary said after the meeting.
A number of issues, including tax concessions to the possibility of setting up a separate ministry for fisheries, were discussed.
"Do you think that all your problems could be solved with the formation of a separate ministry?" Gandhi asked the fishermen.
Some fishermen wanted the Centre to come out with a loan-waiver scheme for them; others said there should be subsidy on diesel used for fishing boats. There were also demands for exemption of outboard engines and fishing implements from sales tax.
Concern about the depletion of fish stock resulting from deep-sea fishing by factory vessels and extensive trawling were also placed before Gandhi.
When a middle-aged woman stood up to ask her question, Gandhi posed a counter query: "Do you want your son to be a fisherman?"
She said: "No. I want my son to go for higher studies and become a person like you."
According to Justin Antony, a PhD holder from the community, it was a free-and-frank exchange and the enthusiasm of all those present were visible.
"Rahulji's questions also elicited prompt responses from the audience and it made the proceedings quite lively," said Congress MLA from Kerala P C Vishunath. (ANI)