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Assam Polls 2021: Opposition Promises Tea Workers Wages Hike, BJP Introduces Schemes, Which Way Will Tea Garden Votes Go?

Making up 17 per cent of the state's population, the people from the tea tribes will be critical to the outcomes in about 40 out of 47 constituencies

Assam Polls 2021: Opposition Promises Tea Workers Wages Hike, BJP Introduces Schemes, Which Way Will Tea Garden Votes Go?

Sentinel Digital Desk

GUWAHATI:

Tea Garden Labour Wages Scheme in Assam: As the state of Assam gears up for the first phase of the Assam Assembly election- the spotlight will be on the vote bank of the tea tribes of Assam which is around 30-35 per cent of Assam's total electorate.

Making up 17 per cent of the state's population, the people from the assam tea community will be critical to the outcomes in about 40 out of 47 constituencies that go to vote Saturday, 27 March. Of the 47 seats, 42 are in the 11 districts of Upper Assam and North Assam, and five in Central Assam's Nagaon district.

With such a humongous treasure of votes for the political parties- the Opposition along with the ruling BJP government in Assam has left no stone unturned in the way to lure and regain back the seat.

In the month the January and February 2021, the Congress has blown its horn for the welfare of the age-old tea industry workers and in the meanwhile, the BJP government too in Assam have launched a lucrative scheme in the presence of Union Finance Minister Nirmala which was presided over the 'Cha Bagichar Dhan Puraskar Mela' (fair for gifting wealth to tea garden workers) in Guwahati. The event entailed transferring Rs. 3,000 each to the bank accounts of 7,46,667 tea workers in Assam.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the previous Congress government had deprived the tea workers of their rights. "We introduced several schemes in tea gardens. The children of tea workers are today marching ahead. Three of them cracked the Assam Civil Services Exam," he said.

Meanwhile, a promise to hike the wages of plantation workers to Rs 351 is yet to be fulfilled. The government did announce a hike of Rs 50 but this is clearly much less than what was promised. The tea garden workers were earning Rs. 167 which has now gone up to Rs 217. There is still a deficit of Rs 134.

The Congress took a jibe at this while doing an election rally in Assam's Biswanath district. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who attended the rally said that the BJP government has only promised to raise the daily wage but the same has not been implemented.

Going off-track from the political conflicts and war of words among the aspiring parties to rule the state of Assam, lets us take a look at what exactly the tea tribes are looking for in their leader.

Speaking to the media one of the tea tribe workers in the Nagaon district said, "The daily wage has not increased till now, all these are said by the government and then they go away."

"While taking the decision on the wage hike they change, " she added.

Though there have been several dole-outs for the tea garden workers, they feel that with expenses rising, hand-outs like Rs 800 or Rs 3000 under the 'Cha Bagichar Dhan Puraskar' scheme have given them just some respite.

"What will I do with Rs. 800, either I pay the electricity bill or gas bill. Everything is costly in the market, they should increase our wage," a worker said.

The tea garden workers are, however, happy about the fact that some amount of developmental work has happened in the tea garden areas. The tea garden workers have acknowledged the fact that the government has been vocal about the need for their growth and also for sustainable livelihood.

But the fact remains that though political parties over the years have promised a wage hike and ST status to the tea tribe communities, both remain unfulfilled.


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