Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 23 (IANS) Continuing his tirade against the now cancelled deep sea fishing project in Kerala, the Congress' Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala on Tuesday demanded a judicial probe into the entire sequence of events which began by first tweaking the fisheries policy and then signing of MoU with the US-headquartered EMCC which has an Indian partner.
Following the controversy, on Monday the Pinarayi Vijayan government decided to cancel the MoU and announced a probe by senior bureaucrat T.K. Jose.
Speaking to the media here, Chennithala said right from the time he brought this out, it was only "lies" that were being spoken, first by State Fisheries Minister J. Mercykutty, then by State Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan and then Chief Minister Vijayan who despite meeting these company officials twice, is yet to say anything.
"The discussions to this project first began in 2018 with Mercykutty having a discussion with the company when she went on a visit to US. Then the first move to this came when the state fisheries policy was tweaked and included was a clause that deep sea fishing will be promoted and the traditional fishermen would be used for it. This was done purposely and then came two meetings which Vijayan took part with these company officials, which he is yet to admit. Both Mercykutty and Jayarajan were caught on the wrong foot, after they first denied meeting anyone and then it was proved wrong," said Chennithala.
"This project, had we not found out, would have finished off the fisheries sector and this is nothing but big cheating of the hapless fisherfolk. We will provide our full support to the coastal 'hartal' called by various organisations on Saturday against this dubious project. We will also meet the fisherfolk and explain to them about this project," added Chennithala.
"The present probe is being done by a bureaucrat T.K. Jose. It makes no sense as two state ministers and the Chief Minister are the prime culprits and hence only a judicial probe will reveal everything," said Chennithala.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi who is presently in the state, will also meet the fisherfolk at Kollam.
With the Assembly polls round the corner, and the fishing community seen as a huge vote bank, which of late has been more aligned to the Left, the Congress expects to exploit this deep sea fishing project in its campaign, which it expects will be able to swing this huge vote back to its advantage.