Abhishek Banerjee, national general secretary of Trinamul Congress, has left for Hyderabad on Saturday for his eye treatment in a hospital there, sources in the ruling party said.
Criticizing the role of the Trinamul Congress led state government, Union Minister for Women and Child Development and Minority Affairs Smriti Irani on Sunday 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.
Irani was addressing a grand rally of tea workers at Dagapur in Siliguri today. Keeping 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.
Union Minister Irani also visited an Atal tea plantation area in Terai region and interacted with women tea workers to know about their exact situation.
Quoting tea workers, Irani said: “Workers have not yet got their land rights. They said Mamata Banerjee has not yet given them the deed of land rights when I asked them.”
The Union Minister criticised the Chief Minister’s decision to provide only five decimal land in different locations and what was her plan behind construction of five star hotel in tea area depriving workers.
Commenting on the Trinamul Congress’s agitation programme in Delhi, Irani categorically asked where is the Central government’s fund allotted under several schemes especially in the Hills, criticising the recruitment scams especially in education department.
Irani also attended Swachh Bharat Avijan near Tenzin Norgey Bus Terminus in Siliguri today.
The state BJP president Sukanta Majumder, while addressing the rally, said: “The state government is working in favour of the tea garden owners 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 percent. Tea garden owners will have to pay at the rate of 20 per cent.”
Barla also said: “The state government has provided land rights among Rohingyas here but the Mamata is reluctant to provide land rights for tea workers, who have been residing here more than 100 years.”
Echoing Barla, Darjeeling MP Raju Bista said: “Infiltrators from Bangladesh have managed deed of land rights here but the tea workers, who have been working and residing in tea area 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, Raju 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, 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.”
“But interestingly Abhishek Banerjee and his team have asked party men to gherao house of MLAs and MPs on PF issue,” Bista said.
Significantly, several leaders including party’s co-observer Amit Malviya, Jalpaiguri MP Jayanta Roy, MLAs and leaders of Trade Union Relation Cell were present on the occasion.