Rahul Gandhi diving into the Arabian Sea during his visit to Kollam in Kerala had already gone viral, and a video of that incident published on the YouTube page of Kerala-based Fishing Freaks have found widespread popularity as well. The video, which was uploaded on Thursday, has since then been seen by almost 12.4 lakh people, and it is currently trending at number 10.
The video shows the team behind the Fishing Freaks channel join Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi on a fishing boat going into the sea. At the beginning of the video, they tell the audience that the people on the boat don’t have any clue about the special guest that would be joining them. The people on the boat were surprised to see Rahul on their vessel in the early morning joined by the members of the vlogging team.
Amidst their journey into the deep-sea, the video portrayed explorative visuals of how the ordinary fisherfolk engage in their livelihood. Rahul would enquire with the fisherfolk, with Sebin Cyriac acting as the translator. The Congress leader asked about how they go about finding fish and regarding the maintenance of the boat and net. “The fishing boats now use Sonar to find and detect fish, when earlier the driver had to keep his eye out for them. The technology has eased our efforts,” the boat owner said, adding that he would have to take care of the maintenance of the boat and net. Rahul also enquired about the profit-sharing mechanisms in a boat as such as this.
Meanwhile, in a casual conversation with the vlogger, Rahul revealed that he was a scuba diving instructor who can go up to 38 metres deep and that he is a good swimmer. Adding to the excitement of everyone on the boat, Rahul jumped into the sea alongside two of their divers, who had joined the boat after losing their jobs in the Covid pandemic. The divers were tensed as well seeing him jump, but it was quickly alleviated as they saw him casually swimming in the sea. The YT video also set aside allegations that the whole incident had been pre-planned for political mileage, and that his diving into the sea had been fake.
Soon after, the Wayanad MP returned to the boat and he joined the others in pulling the fishing net. However, his excitement dipped when he realised that despite the tremendous efforts these fisherfolk put in, all they got in return was a squid and a sardine. He had asked them what a good collection would be, and they replied about 5,000 kilogrammes. While having breakfast with them, Rahul also enquired about the status of their boat and the net, their condition, and insurance. The boat owner replied that the situation isn’t easy for them. “We don’t get insurance for boats as such as this, and the nets cost around Rs 900 per kilogrammes and the one we use cost around Rs 16-18 Lakh. With the increase in petrol price, sometimes the business isn’t profitable, especially on days when we get such low yield,” the owner said, adding that GST didn’t do them any good either. Talking about the price of the fish and the market, the fisherfolk said that the rates are fixed by the rich merchants at the harbour, and the fisherfolk rarely have any control over that. Rahul Gandhi sat there silently, listening to the owner talk about their troubles and the Congress leader asked questions instead of “educating them”.
In a Facebook post, Vipin Das Thottam Purayidam, who is the Program Coordinator at Coastal Students Cultural Forum, said that it isn’t a small thing or a laughing matter for a political leader to spend time with workers in their field of work to understand their troubles. “We [coastal community members] have been saying it for a long time that those making policies for fisherfolk have nothing to do with the sea or our livelihood,” he said, adding that the Kerala Chief Minister took four days to visit the coastal area after the Okhi disaster.
Returning to the video, the boat crew took a selfie with Rahul Gandhi before they landed, and the vlogging team split apart from the Congress leader after landing. However, this is not the first time that Rahul Gandhi had been a special guest on a popular YouTube channel. Earlier, during his visit to Tamil Nadu, where he joined the popular Village Cooking Channel and helped them in making a mushroom biryani. In the video, he interacted with the chefs and ate alongside them, which also garnered millions of viewers.