A fisherwoman’s complaint to Rahul Gandhi went astray on Wednesday as Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayansamy translated for her.
The Chief Minister – struggling with a potential crisis in his government – had accompanied Mr Gandhi during his visit to the fishermen, a key community in the seaside town.
During the exchange, a woman said in Tamil, “He (Narayanasamy) is here. Did he ever visit us during Cyclone?”
“During the Nivar cyclone, I came and visited the area and gave relief to them. That she says,” explained Mr Narayansamy.
“There is only so much one can understand by asking questions … I need one favour from you. Next time I come, I want to go with you in the fishing boat to see what you experience,” Mr Gandhi said to a big round of applause.
During Rahul Gandhi interaction with fishermen lady says (in TAMIL) CM V Narayanasamy never visited us after Cyclone Nirav
Narayanswamy Translates to Rahul Gandhi : She saying that CM visited us after cyclone and gave relief materials to us. pic.twitter.com/2sw0bEKyjb
— Chayan Chatterjee (@Satyanewshi) February 17, 2021
On his part, Mr Gandhi – who had started the day with a visit to the fishermen – had committed a faux pas that brought cheer to the BJP camp.
Praising fishermen as “farmers of the sea”, Mr Gandhi had said: “I think to myself, if farmers of the land have a ministry in Delhi then why can’t farmers of the sea have a ministry in Delhi? When we have an issue of farmers we go to the ministry that belongs to the farmers. We go to the Agricultural Minister, but when fishermen have an issue, they do not have a minister to go to. And so I think an important thing we have to do for fishermen is we have to give them a ministry in the central government, so their issues can be raised and their pain can be taken care of”.
The BJP pointed out that there is already a fisheries ministry, headed by Union minister Giriraj Singh. Mr Singh tweeted the fact in Italian and later told reporters that he was “astonished to know that a party’s leader is unaware of a separate ministry formed for fisheries, animal husbandry and dairy by PM (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) in 2019 and I took oath as its minister”.
However, Congress leaders point out that ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had promised a separate ministry.
“Work is underway in Puducherry and in other parts for the first time,” he added.
The Congress-DMK alliance government led by Mr Narayansamy has been struggling with a spate of resignations since the year started.
While N Dhanavelou was disqualified last year for alleged anti-party activities, A Namassivayam and E Theeppainjan resigned on January 25. This week two ministers — Malladi Krishna Rao and John Kumar – quit, leaving the government and the opposition with 14 seats each – one short of the majority mark of 15.
Mr Narayansamy has denied that his government is facing any crisis.