GUWAHATI: Promises of daily wage hike of tea garden workers in the state by all political parties have been making rounds in this poll season in Assam. While the demand for a daily wage hike of the tea garden workers continued to be a poll issue in the state, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday announced that Congress will hike the daily wage of the workers to Rs 365 within six hours of coming into power in Assam.
Gandhi who was on a two-day visit of the state to campaign for his party, made the ‘guarantee’ while addressing a public rally in Doomdooma in Eastern Assam.
He said, “I don’t care what others will say or what the economists of the world think. I guarantee the people of the state that the daily wage of the tea garden workers will be made Rs 365 within six hours of Congress taking charge in Dispur.”
Last month, in a pre-poll sop for the tea tribe community, Adivasis, who are a major voting force in 45 of 126 Assembly seats, the Sarbananda Sonowal cabinet in Assam had decided to increase the daily wage of tea plantation workers from Rs 167 to Rs 217, a hike of meager Rs 50.
However, days later, the government promise entangled in a legal battle when several tea garden owners opposed the government’s decision and moved the Gauhati high court. The court has already asked the state government not to take any coercive action against the Indian Tea Association and the tea companies till the next date of the hearing scheduled on March 15.
The BJP had in its 2016 vision document, assured Rs 351 as a daily wage for the tea garden workers. In 2017, the BJP government in Assam had hiked the daily wage of tea workers from Rs 137 to Rs 167 as an interim measure following the recommendation of an advisory committee, which had suggested a daily wage of a minimum of Rs 352.
In the House of 126 in Assam, votes of tea garden workers work as a deciding factor in some 40-42 seats in Upper, Central, and Northern Assam besides Barak Valley.
Once considered loyal to the Congress, the tea workers largely shifted allegiance to the BJP in the 2016 Assam state election.