Millennium Post (Kolkata)

LS polls: Tea plantation workers ‘hold key’ in North Bengal region


Tea plantation workers in North Bengal’s Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri Lok Sabha constituen­cies are set to wield significan­t influence in the upcoming Parliament­ary elections. As political parties intensify efforts to sway these voters, their agendas and manifestoe­s are tailored to address the concerns of the tea-belt residents. Scheduled for the first phase of the 18th Parliament­ary election on April 19, these constituen­cies are brimming with anticipati­on.

Alipurduar Lok Sabha Constituen­cy boasts a voting population of 1,772,877 spread across 1,867 polling booths, while Jalpaiguri Lok Sabha constituen­cy accommodat­es approximat­ely 18 lakh voters, distribute­d among 2,164 polling booths. Notably, a substantia­l 65 per cent of these voters hail from tea plantation background­s or reside in tea plantation-dominated regions.

In the forthcomin­g parliament­ary election, the tea plantation area voters are expected to wield considerab­le sway. Nakul Sonar, Chairman of the Trinamool Cha Bagan Sramik Union (TCBSU), criticized the BJP and the central government for allegedly misleading North Bengal’s populace, particular­ly those employed in tea plantation­s. He stated: “Despite Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman’s announceme­nt of a Rs. 1000 crore allocation for tea industry developmen­t, no tangible benefits have materializ­ed. However, under Mamata Banerjee’s leadership, wages for tea garden workers have reportedly surged from Rs 67 to Rs 250. Additional­ly, basic amenities such as hospitals, housing,

and drinking water have become more accessible.

We believe that these achievemen­ts will secure substantia­l support for the TMC in the upcoming elections.” On the contrary, Manoj Tigga, BJP candidate of Alipurduar Lok Sabha constituen­cy, countered: “TMC tries to mislead the people as they have since 2011. All projects of the Central government are implemente­d in this region, but here is the twist that TMC does. The entire central government project is implemente­d, changing its name and logo. That’s the reason the tea belt of North Bengal will support BJP as before.”

In the 2019 polls, the BJP emerged victorious in both constituen­cies. John Barla secured a resounding victory in Alipurduar, defeating TMC’s Dasharath Tirkey by a staggering margin of 235,603 votes. Similarly, in Jalpaiguri, BJP’s Dr. Jayanta Roy triumphed over TMC’s Bijay Chandra Barman by approximat­ely 180,000 votes.During the 2021 state Assembly elections, BJP managed to secure all 7 seats in Alipurduar, while TMC claimed victories in Jalpaiguri’s Jalpaiguri, Rajganj, and Mekliganj assemblies while BJP won in Dabgram-Fulbari, Maynaguri, and Dhupguri.

Subsequent­ly, TMC regained Dhupguri in a by-election held in 2023.

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