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BJP, Cong woo tea belt voters in Assam


Arijit Sen,CNN-IBN
Mar 22, 2009 at 06:17pm IST

Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi was attacked by the BJP when he openly admitted to taking "donations" from tea garden owners, but the politics over the tea votebank hasn't improved the plight of estate workers.

Gogoi had said, “Yes, I collect money from the people, I agree.”

But BJP’s Election Observor for the North-East, Harinder Pratap took on the Assam CM saying, “You cannot provide bonuses for workers and you take money from tea garden owners.”

The tea community with a population of 70 lakh has the largest presence in Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Koliabor and Tezpur parliamentary seats. Traditionally, a Congress bastion, this time the tea vote may be divided.

The Assam Tea Tribes Students Association, an influential group, has decided to deny entry to some Congress leaders in the gardens.

“We people, we collectively give the votes. That's why a lot depends on us,” ATTSA leader Krishna Kamal Tanti said.

Yet, the quality of life in the labour lines has hardly improved. Even now for plucking an excess of 20 kilogram of tea leaves, a ridiculuous amount of 20 paise is paid as a bonus amount.

"All of them (political parties) don’t do anything. We do not even have a latrine, forget other things,” an angry worker said.

Irrespective of the tilt of the tea belt towards any political party, on the ground it is clear that most of these labourers of the tea gardens of Assam are still trapped in underdevelopment and false promises.

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