Tea-garden workers plucking tea leaves at an estate (Image credit: India Today)

Assam government reminded of hiking wages of tea-garden workers ahead of polls

Reacting quickly to the election promise made by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on February 14, the Assam government on Saturday raised the wage of tea-garden workers from Rs 167 to 217 per day.

Last week Rahul Gandhi on his visit to Sivasagar as a part of his first election tour to Assam had promised that the Congress, if voted to power, would increase the wage more than two-times—from Rs 167 to 365. The ten-lakh strong tea garden workers have been demanding the wage increase to Rs 351.

Rahul reminded as to how before the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the then Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had promised to increase the daily wage to Rs 350, but it never happened. The tea-garden workers have influence over 35 out of 126 assembly seats of the state. The state cabinet also decided to set up a one-man committee under Principal Secretary Dr. J B Ekka for equal wage of small tea workers.                                                        

It needs to be mentioned that the present-day tea-workers of Assam are actually indigenous tribes of what is now called Jharkhand, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh and parts of south Bengal who were settled by the British imperialists between 1855 and 1890. They were mostly settled in upper Assam and form about 20 per cent of the state’s population—65 lakh. Clashes between these Adivasis and local tribes, especially Bodos are quite common.

In the recent past, the tea tribes had voted for the BJP with the faint hope that their deplorable economic condition would be improved. But since their condition continued to deteriorate, the Congress is fully trying to exploit the situation. It needs to be mentioned that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is again going to visit Assam on February 22, that is, third time since January 23.

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