Assam polls: Cong faces tea workers' resentment

Arunoday Mukharji | Updated: April 4, 2011, 10:47 AM IST

Tezpur: As Assam goes to polls on Monday, it is the woes of the tea planation workers, a large votebank of the Congress stronghold, that would play a crucial role in the outcome of these elections.

This time during elections, tea plantation workers, who've been picking leaves for years, will think hard before picking their leader. And indications are that the Congress - for whom they are a votebank - may not be so lucky.

"Rs 25 a day is not enough for sustenance...we lack basic civic facilities," said tea garder worker Kurmi Tati.

Rs 25 a day is all they get for picking leaves. No wonder that the tea workers live in abject poverty and often eat just one meal a day and living in broken houses.

But they are also a crucial votebank for the Congress, accounting for 40 of the 126 assembly seats in Assam. This time round though - they've been angered by the Congress Chief Minister's brother Deep Gogoi - who called them foreigners.

"We are from other Indian states, there are Bangladeshis, Pakistanis living here, no one tells them anything, but they call us foreigners," said tea garder worker Sunil Pathor.

And the other political parties are only too happy to exploit this neglect.

"Because of this, AGP and other political parties are offended with the Congress," said AGP's Tezpur MP Joesph Toppo.

The AGP, the BJP and now even the Trinamul Congress will most certainly be sipping out of the Congress' cup of votes. What brews here in the tea gardens of Assam might just leave a bitter taste for the ruling party these elections.

First Published: April 4, 2011, 10:47 AM IST

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