Tea-garden workers pluck tea leaves at an estate in Assam (Image credit: ThePrint)

Adivasi factor crucial in the first phase in Assam, West Bengal

As electioneering came to an end on March 25 evening for the first phase of polling in Assam and West Bengal, Adivasi factor would be very crucial in both these states.

Polling for 47 seats in Assam and 30 in West Bengal would take place on March 27. There are substantial tea-garden workers in at least 20 out of the 47 seats which are going to poll in Assam. They are upset with the ruling BJP because it has failed to fulfil its promise made in the last Assembly and two Lok Sabha elections.

The Tea-tribes, who form about 20 per cent of Assam’s population, are the same Adivasis who were taken by the British colonists between 1850 and 1900 to work in the tea-gardens of Assam.

Today these workers are of the view that it has become extremely difficult to meet two ends at the paltry daily wage of Rs 167. The Sarbananda Sonowal government on February 20 decided to raise the wage to Rs 217 daily. But it could not be implemented because the tea companies moved the court. Now the Adivasis are holding the ruling BJP responsible for it on the plea that these companies are close to the saffron party.

Incidentally, the 30 seats of West Bengal which are going to poll too, have substantial Adivasi population. Most of the seats fall in Jungle Mahal and Jhargram regions of the state.

Though Union home minister Amit Shah, defence minister Rajnath Singh and UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath too took part on the final day of polling, it was the film-star Mithun Chakravarty who campaigned for the BJP candidates in Bankura and Jhargram.

As the BJP is trying its level best to woo Adivasi voters of this pocket the ruling Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress is leaving no stone unturned.

The ruling party of Jharkhand, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, has extended its support to the TMC in West Bengal and Congress-led Mahajot in Assam. Its chief minister Hemant Soren has campaigned in the Adivasi belt of both these states.

Ever since the December 2019 defeat of the BJP in Jharkhand, the grip of the saffron party has got weakened on Adivasis. But the BJP is trying its level best to stage a comeback in the constituencies adjoining Jharkhand.

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