Gujarat elections: Separate ministry for fisheries needed, says Rahul Gandhi in Porbandar

Ahmedabad: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, on a two-day election campaign visit to Gujarat, promised on Friday to set up a separate ministry for fisheries if voted to power at the centre.

Addressing a rally in Porbandar, Gandhi said fishermen had told him their work is similar to that done by farmers and, hence, a separate ministry is required to address their concerns.

Hitting out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he said at a time when farmers were seeking loan waivers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last year given a waiver to the tune of Rs1.3 trillion to 10 big industrialists.

He said only the voice of the rich and affluent had been heard in the state assembly for 22 years under BJP rule, and promised to change this if Congress is voted to power.

Gandhi, who is expected to take over soon as Congress president, will accept a giant tricolour made by Dalit artisans at Dalit Shakti Kendra in Sanand, near Ahmedabad. The vocational training institute had earlier made attempts to present the national flag to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, but had not succeeded. The Congress vice-president’s visit to Sanand is seen as an attempt to woo Dalit voters, especially after Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani pledged his support to Congress in the state elections.

In the course of his visit covering Porbandar, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and Mahisagar districts, Gandhi will interact with farmers, teachers and villagers.

The Gujarat elections will be held on 9 and 14 December, and results will be declared on 18 December.

Meanwhile, the BJP released a list of 13 more candidates for the state assembly elections. With this, the party has so far announced names of candidates for 148 of 182 constituencies.

The latest list comprises three Patel candidates, three repeat legislators and one woman candidate. Three legislators have been dropped from the list.

Among the key candidates, Sumanben Chauhan has been fielded from Kalol. She is the daughter-in-law of Panchmahal MP, Prabhatsinh Chauhan. The party has dropped sitting legislator Lalji Mer as its candidate from Dhandhuka and instead fielded Kalubhai Dabhi. Sitting legislator Vallabh Kakadia has been fielded from Thakkar Bapa Nagar, in Ahmedabad, instead of former home minister Gordhan Zadaphia, whose name was in the reckoning.

The party has also decided to continue with 79-year-old Narayan Patel from Unjha. Unjha is a stronghold of Kadva Patels, a sub-sect of Patidars.

Among others, BJP has fielded Gujarati film actor Hitesh Kanodia from Idar. The constituency was represented by speaker in the outgoing assembly, Ramanlal Vora, who has been moved to Dasada.

The list includes Amit Chaudhary from Mansa near Gandhinagar, Vijay Chakraborty from Vadgam, Ranchhod Rabari from Patan, Ramanlal Patel from Vijapur, Karsan Solanki from Kadi in North Gujarat and Piyush Desai from Navsari.