Fresh from his Europe tour, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi today visited Kerala, which is struggling to resume normal life as floodwaters slowly recede from vast stretches. Around 500 people have died during the Century's worst monsoon - nearly 300 of them in the floods caused after waters were released from more than 20 full-to-capacity dams.
Mr Gandhi, who had announced his visit in a tweet yesterday, went to meet the people and their rescuers in the relief camps of Chengannur, Alapuzha and Ernakulam - three of the worst-hit districts. Thirteen of the 14 districts in the state had been hit by the floods, pushing more than 13 lakh people to go and stay in relief camps - often after being marooned on rooftops for days.
Felicitating local fishermen in Alappuzha, who have been receiving kudos for their huge contribution in the rescue efforts, Mr Gandhi said, "3000 fishermen saved 70,000 people. This is not a small thing, it is a huge deal. I want to say thanks you to you".
Once his party comes to power in the Centre, there will be a "ministry of fishermen", the Congress chief added to loud cheers.
"I don't like to make fake promises. You can take this as a commitment... If farmers have built this country, fishermen also have helped to build this country," said the Congress chief, whose party was voted out of power in the last assembly elections in the state.
In Chengannur, Mr Gandhi visited the relief camp at the Christian College and an engineering college. He spoke to people at both the centres.
Over the last weeks, Mr Gandhi had posted multiple tweets to express solidarity with the people in Kerala. In one, he also requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the floods as a national disaster.
After the Centre announced an interim relief of Rs 500 crore, Mr Gandhi tweeted, ""Please declare Kerala floods a national disaster without any delay. The lives, livelihood and future of millions of our people are at stake. Please do not vacillate as the people of Kerala are suffering."
He also pushed in his party workers to help with the relief and rescues efforts in the battered state.
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