By Bappaditya Chatterjee
Siliguri/Kolkata,: Brewing discontent, rancour over low salary and miss of land rights for tea garden workers, whose votes are wilful in 4 Lok Sabha constituencies in North Bengal, could emerge as hurdles to a Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress in a arriving polls.
About 4.5 lakh approach and surreptitious workers and their dependents, staying in about 300 estates – organized and confused – widespread opposite Darjeeling, a Dooars and a Terai in these constituencies benefaction a design of damage and wish nonetheless a tea plantations are touted as India’s second largest employer, kinship leaders say.
“Organised tea garden workers and their dependents form about 50 per cent of a citizens in Alipurduar and about 40 per cent in Jalpaiguri. In Darjeeling constituency, including a hills and a plains, they have a share of around 50 per cent. They form a sizeable cube of electorate in Coochbehar.
“Since their trouble has double plural during a order of a Trinamool (in a state) and a BJP (at a centre), they will opinion opposite shrinking socio-economic infrastructure, including disappearing medical comforts and non-implementation of Minimum Wages Act,” Zia-Ul-Alam, Convenor of a Joint Forum of Trade Unions, an powerful organization of trade unions operative in tea zone and CITU General Secretary (Tea Industry), told IANS.
The Trinamool had won a Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and a Coochbehar Lok Sabha constituencies in 2014 while a BJP’s S.S. Ahluwalia, now a Union Minister, corroborated by a Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), degraded Trinamool claimant and soccer star Bhaichung Bhutia in Darjeeling.
Trinamool’s Dasrath Tirkey, who had shamed a Revolutionary Socialist Party’s Manohar Tirkey in 2014, would find re-election from Alipurduar, fighting opposite a RSP’s Mili Oraon this time.
In Jalpaiguri, obligatory MP Bijoy Chandra Barman, who bested Mahendra Kumar Roy of a CPI-M a final time, will competition opposite Bhagirath Roy of a same party.
In Coochbehar, Trinamool hopeful Paresh Chandra Adhikary has transposed obligatory MP Partha Pratim Ray, who won a bye-election in 2016, humbling a BJP’s Hem Chandra Barman.
The BJP, nonetheless to announce a candidates, has been rising as a challenging choice force in a tea-growing region.
Apart from afterwards Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s steady visits to a tea gardens, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s outing to Jalpaiguri in Feb indicates a priority a saffron care is giving to a segment as partial of a concentration on West Bengal.
Taking a taunt during a Trinamool, Congress and Left-backed unions, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh state Vice President Shankar Das told IANS: “The predicament of a tea workers is not new. The BJP is entrance adult as a challenging choice in a region, as a Congress, Left Front and Trinamool have unsuccessful to residence their issues.”
Crippled by malnourishment, low salary and unsound medical facilities, a camp workers are in misery, contend kinship activists.
“Neither a BJP (at a Centre) nor a Trinamool (in a state) is listening to a demands. Trinamool alleges that a Left unsuccessful to do anything for us though a benefaction government’s announced smallest salary has sparked annoy among workers,” Rafique Ansari, a workman during a Palashbari tea garden in Alipurduar, told IANS.
Usually, a salary agreement for tea workers is executed for a three-year period. The final agreement lapsed on Mar 31, 2017. The state supervision afterwards announced an halt daily salary travel of Rs 17.50 though has been allegedly “dilly-dallying in enforcing a Minimum Wages Act”.
In Jalpaiguri constituency, Banarhat tea estate workman Jitbahan Shaw told IANS: “We are removing a daily salary of Rs 176 and many labourers operative in confused and tiny gardens do accept even Rs 120-130 as daily wage. We are a lowest paid camp workers. How can we run families with such insignificant amounts?”
Workers indicted a owners of not giving allotment as a partial of salary though as partial of a Food Security Mission Programme.
“Plantation Labour Act and a Plantation Labour Rules are being grossly violated. They are landless workers and live in tea estates like serf population. They will opinion for land rights. Both a BJP and Trinamool will compensate a cost in a elections for not elucidate a issue,” INTUC corroborated National Union of Plantation Workers General Secretary Mani Kumar Darnal told IANS.
Not reduction than Rs 150 crore of salary stays delinquent and many workers were also deprived of their legitimate Provident Fund dues, he added.
Despite proclamation of arrangement of a Tea Directorate to relationship between a tea gardens and a state government, a Trinamool supervision “did not delineate any petrify step” to free about 15-20 gone gardens, Darnal said.
Admitting a issues lifted by workers and unions, Amar Singh Rai, a sitting GJM authority from Darjeeling, who will competition from a Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency, corroborated by a pro-Banerjee coterie of a GJM, has betrothed to broach in foster of a workers if elected.
“We are going to take brazen a emanate of implementing a smallest salary since it is a long-pending direct for them. In a GJM manifesto, we mentioned that a salary emanate would be a tip priority,” Rai told IANS on a phone.
(Bappaditya Chatterjee can be contacted during email@example.com)
Article source: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/elections/lok-sabha/west-bengal/which-way-is-political-wind-blowing-in-bengals-tea-gardens/articleshow/68477878.cms