Next year's general elections in India will determine the unity within the INDIA block
Criticising the role of the Trinamul Congress-led state government, Union Minister for Women and Child Development and Minority Affairs Smriti Irani, today asked Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee why she was reluctant to implement Minimum Wages for tea workers but suddenly increased the ‘salary’ of MLAs and her Cabinet ministers. Ms Irani was addressing a rally of tea workers at Dagapur in Siliguri today. With an eye on the next Lok Sabha Polls in 2024, the BJP leadership and its Trade Union Relation Cell organised the programme on the present issues in tea plantations in the Terai, Dooars and the Hills.
Ms Irani also visited a Atal tea plantation area in the Terai region today and inter- acted with women tea workers about their situation. Quoting the tea workers, Ms Irani said: “Workers have not yet got their land rights. They said Mamata Banerjee has not yet given them the deed of land rights (patta) when I asked them.”
The Union Minister criticised the Chief Minister’s decision to provide only five decimals of land in different locations and askde what was her plan behind construction of five star hotel in tea areas while depriving workers.
Commenting on the Tri- namul Congress’s agitation programme in Delhi, Ms Irani asked where is the Central gov- ernment’s fund allotted under several schemes especially in the Hills, and criticised the recruitment scams especially in the state’s education department.
Several BJP leaders were present today to assure the tea workers that the BJP would
fight for their legitimate claims.
The state BJP president Sukanta Majumder, addressing the rally, said: “The state government is working in favour of the tea garden owners while depriving tea workers. The BJP leaders will start bargaining with the planters for tea workers’ rights.”
Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs John Barla said: “Since 2010 we have been receiving bonus at the rate of 20 per cent. This year planters have proposed to pay bonus at 8.33 per cent.
Tea garden owners will have to pay at the rate of 20 per cent.” Mr Barla also said: “The state government has provided land rights for Rohingyas here but the Mamata Banerjee government is reluctant to provide land rights for tea workers, who have been residing here more than 100 years.”
Echoing Mr Barla, Darjeeling MP Raju Bista said: “Infiltrators from Bangladesh have managed to obtain land deeds here but the tea work- ers, who have been working and residing in tea areas over 100 years have been denied their land rights.When the state government has allowed planters for using 15 per cent of lease hold land, tea workers have been deprived of their rights.”
On the issue of Puja bonus, Mr Bista said: “Workers will not co-operate with the planters during the first flush season if they are deprived of 20 per cent bonus before Puja.”
Coming down heavily on both chief minister Mamata Banerjee and TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, Mr Bista said: “ Provident Fund officials have lodged nearly 80 complaints with respective police stations in the tea belt against planters but Mamata Banerjee’s police are still reluctant to take proper action against them.”
“Butinterestingly Abhishek Banerjee and his team have asked party men to gherao house of MLAs and MPs on PF issue,” Mr Bista said. Several BJP leaders including party’s co observer Amit Malviya, Jalpaiguri MP Jayan- ta Roy, MLAs and leaders of Trade Union Relation Cell were present here today.
Ms Irani also participated in a Swachh Bharat Avijan near Tenzin Norgey Bus Terminus in Siliguri today.