Jalpaiguri: As Mamata Banerjee's juggernaut rolls out, the Left seems to have hit a red-end in Jalpaiguri. It looks like the tea tribes are drifting away from the Left.
Living on the brink of civilisation, these people have been through decades of neglect and deprivation. Trade-unionism and management woes have left many tea-gardens such as this, shut for years, leaving hundreds of families jobless. Seen as the traditional vote bank of the CPIM, the tea tribes want change and now.
Gopal natta, who is very angry, said, "they never took care of us, they don't even think we exist. Why should we vote for them. Where will we go?"
61-year old Gopal Natta takes us to what he used to call home till one night a herd of elephants destroyed it, leaving him and his kids homeless. With no water, no electricity, no roads, for these adivasi families this election is about choosing life beyond the dark ages that they live in.
"Most of these people have voted for the CPM. These people were their vote banks but these people have been politically and physically exploited. Most of these people have voted for CPM their whole life but they have been exploited for years. So now, they want a change," said Tej Kumar Toppo, General Secretary Akhil Bharatiya Vikas Parishad.
This is one of the many tea gardens which have been shut for decades, rendering hundreds of adivasi families jobless. Even as some of the estates slowly try to limp back to life, the people here still live with fear and uncertainty. This election is perhaps the first step forward to get their voices heard.