"I Was Shocked": PM Attacks Rahul Gandhi Over "Fisheries Ministry" Remark

PM Modi took a dig at the Congress party which till a few days ago had run the government, likening it to the British.

PM Modi said Puducherry did not deserve a "high command" government.

Puducherry:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today attacked the Congress, especially its leader Rahul Gandhi, over his remarks on creating a fisheries ministry at the Centre. He expressed shock that the former party chief wasn't aware of such a ministry having been set up in 2019 by the Central government.

"I was absolutely shocked to hear a Congress leader come and say they want to start a fisheries ministry because there is none. The truth is that it already exists. The current NDA government has already set up a fisheries ministry back in 2019 itself," PM Modi said today.

The Prime Minister is in the Union Territory to inaugurate a slew of developmental projects, especially in the run up to the assembly polls to be held in April-May.

During his speech at a campaign rally, he took a dig at the Congress party which till a few days ago had run the Puducherry government likening it to the British. Addressing a public meeting in poll-bound Puducherry, as he said people of the Union Territory were celebrating the "freedom from misgovernance of Congress".

"Our colonial rulers had the policy of divide and rule. Congress has a policy of divide, lie, and rule. Sometimes their leaders put region against region, community against community," PM Modi said. "They are gold, silver, and bronze medal winners in telling lies."

He was referring to a string of remarks from Mr Gandhi who was visiting Puducherry and Kerala earlier this week and the one before. For instance, in the Union Territory, Mr Gandhi said on February 17 that the fishermen, the "farmers of the sea", needed a separate ministry. Union Fisheries Minister Giriraj Singh and several other BJP leaders were quick to point out the existence of one already. He repeated the demand later in Kerala. Mr Gandhi later clarified that he was referring to the need for an independent ministry and not merely a department under a larger ministry.

Similarly, Mr Gandhi said in Kerala that he had learnt a lot after contesting elections from the state. In what was later perceived as his attempt to sharpen the divide between northern and southern India, he said, "For first 15 years I was a MP in the north. So I had got used to a different type of politics. Coming to Kerala was very refreshing as suddenly I found that people are interested in issues...and not just superficially, but going into details."  

Speaking in Puducherry today, the Prime Minister said the Union Territory did not deserve a "high command" government that would serve a few Congress leaders. He said the NDA government, if voted to power, would treat people as its high command.

The Congress government in Puducherry fell on Monday after Chief Minister V Narayanasamy resigned ahead of the confidence vote in the Assembly with the coalition ministry reduced to a minority following a spate of resignations of party MLAs and a DMK legislator recently.

The former Chief Minister was also involved in a long-running faceoff with former Lt Governor Kiran Bedi who was finally removed by the Centre a few days before the crisis in the government was precipitated. All through in the past five years, Mr Narayanasamy and his government had accused Lt Governor Bedi of non-cooperation.

PM Modi, however, said today that the Congress-led government had not cooperated in the implementation of Central schemes. Reacting to this, former Chief Minister Narayanasamy said, "We never stopped implementation of schemes. The Central government in fact denied funds to Puducherry."