Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's repeat "gaffe" about the need for the creation of Fisheries Ministry drew sharp criticism from union ministers including Smriti Ir and Giriraj, Singh who accused him of peddling lies.
During an interaction with the fishing community in Kollam in Kerala on Wednesday, Gandhi made a veiled attack at the Central government saying no one speaks for fishermen in Delhi.
"Just like our farmers farm the land, you farm the sea. Farmers have a Ministry in Delhi, you don't. No one speaks for you in Delhi. The first thing I would do is to have a ministry dedicated to the fishermen of India so that your issues can be defended and protected," he said.
Gandhi had made a gaffe earlier this month at a meeting in Puducherry and demanded the setting up of a separate ministry for fisheries. The BJP leaders had then slammed his remarks.
While BJP leaders slammed Gandhi over his latest remarks, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge defended him.
Union Minister for Textiles and Women and Child Development Smriti Ir said that Wayanad MP's "spiteful, vile politics is based on lies".
"The fact that Rahul Gandhi sustains on a lie was evident when he again promised the people in Kerala, a ministry for fisheries. The fact that he insults the people of Kerala by speaking a lie time and again is something that the citizens need to take note of," Ir said.
Giriraj Singh, who is Minister for Fisheries, mal Husbandry and Dairying, accused Gandhi of "misleading the people of the country".
"He (Rahul Gandhi) should know that there is a Fisheries Department for which an investment of Rs 20,050 crore has been made by the Centre. In 70 years, work that couldn't be done by your 'nanaji' and others, has been done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi," he said.
"I believe that it's a planned strategy. The brother is putting a rift between north and south and the sister is misleading the farmers. Rahul Gandhi's strategy is to mislead the fishermen. He is either conspiring to mislead the country or he does not have sufficient knowledge," he added.
Union Power Minister RK Singh said the senior leaders from the Congress should inform Gandhi that a separate ministry already exists under the leadership of Giriraj Singh.
"It seems that no one has given information on Fisheries Ministry to him and he does not know about it. It is important that senior leaders of Congress should make him understand so that he doesn't make such statements. They should correct him that the Government of India already has a Fisheries Ministry and Giriraj Singh is Cabinet Minister and Ministry is doing a lot of work," Singh said.
"He (Rahul Gandhi) had said the same thing in the past in Puducherry," he added.
Kharge said that attention was not being paid to the Fisheries Department.
"Fisheries Department comes under Agriculture but nobody gives attention. I appreciate what Rahul Gandhi said. They need full support from the government. Fisheries Ministry should be created. In some places, there are Fishery Ministries but at the Centre, they haven't taken the interest."
( With inputs from ANI )
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