Assam tea garden scam leaves workers facing uncertain future, with BJP leaders' relatives implicated: Gaurav Gogoi

Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi from Jorhat, Assam, alleges people close to BJP are buying bankrupt tea gardens and selling them for different establishments. Workers are left unemployed and without wages. Gogoi calls it a bigger scam than electoral bonds, criticizing BJP politicians. His campaign focuses on issues like healthcare and wages. Voting on April 19th.

PTI | Jorhat | Updated: 11-04-2024 15:16 IST | Created: 11-04-2024 15:16 IST
Assam tea garden scam leaves workers facing uncertain future, with BJP leaders' relatives implicated: Gaurav Gogoi
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Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi has alleged that people close to BJP, including relatives of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and central ministers, are buying bankrupt tea gardens in the state and then selling them overnight to set up different establishments on those lands.

Calling it a ''bigger scam'' than the electoral bonds, the Deputy Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha said the tea garden workers are facing a ''dark future'' with thousands of them being left out of any employment opportunity if this trend continues unabated.

Messages sent to the CM, his OSD, his political adviser and one BJP spokesperson to get a reaction on the allegations remained unanswered.

''In the last few years, many tea gardens have been shut down and many are turning bankrupt. Many tea garden owners have changed hands. People close to the BJP and relatives of BJP ministers, including those of chief minister and some central ministers, are buying tea gardens in different parts of Assam,'' Gogoi the Congress Jorhat Lok Sabha constituency candidate told PTI in an interview.

With sudden change in ownership, the tea garden workers find that they no longer are getting their weekly wages and supplies on time, he alleged.

''This is a big syndicate where the end aim is to force the workers out of those tea estates, and then sell off the land to a different industry to set up a different factory or unit,'' Gogoi claimed.

He warned this is the ''dismal future'' of tea garden labourers and if this continues, the state will have lakhs of workers living on the streets without any wage, provident fund, gratuity, ration and access to healthcare facility.

''This is a big issue. This is a scam bigger than the SBI electoral bonds scam and this is getting patronage by the chief minister of Assam as well as some very powerful ministers sitting in Delhi,'' the Congress candidate for Jorhat Lok Sabha constituency asserted.

He said that because of such reasons, he is keeping this campaign very issue-based among the tea garden community across his constituency.

''The issues that affect their lives like price rise, low wage and lack of proper healthcare among others are being highlighted in my campaign. These poor families no longer get kerosene in their weekly ration and it is affecting their lifestyle,'' Gogoi said.

For Jorhat constituency, his direct contest will be with sitting MP Topon Kumar Gogoi from the BJP. Voting in Jorhat will take place in the first phase on April 19.

Talking about his campaigning, the Congress MP from Kaliabor constituency, which was rechristened as Kaziranga in delimitation, said he is getting unbelievable support with a large number of youngsters joining his campaign trail and voluntarily creating publicity materials like songs and jingles.

''Senior people who had left Congress are also returning. I think we have managed to create a lot of excitement and a lot of buzz. We are focussing on our door-to-door outreach now,'' he added.

Asked how it feels to contest from Jorhat, which is his hometown, Gogoi said it is a reconnection with the place as his father, former CM Tarun Gogoi, was the MLA from Titabor in Jorhat district.

''At the same time, Kaliabor was my father's constituency from 1991 and I had represented Kalibor twice. That constituency for political reasons has been dismembered. I was looking forward to working for the people of Kaliabor for another five years.

''Jorhat has more personal reasons as it is my hometown. But Kaliabor is where my political roots have been sown, where I have learnt the basics of politics from the people of that constituency,'' he added.

Gogoi said his team is giving a ''special focus'' on the youths as the first time voters are coming to this election with a fresh pair of eyes and expectations on how politics should be.

''BJP's politics is use of money and muscle power, and use of very filthy language by some of its leaders. In our campaign, they see substantive politics, issues being discussed, university reforms being discussed. We have found a different way of communicating with people and that's our strategy,'' he added.

When asked how he is wooing the women voters, who in recent times are claimed to have turned towards BJP, Gogoi said: ''I think the BJP take the women of Assam for granted. When I have met women across all sections of the society, whether in villages or tea gardens or in tribal areas, they are all disenchanted.'' The women feel that BJP keeps giving them false promises, luring them with different schemes and taking their personal information, but they have never seen the benefit of those schemes. Such women are forced to waste their valuable time, money and told to wait endlessly, he claimed.

''So, women are getting increasingly tired and frustrated by the false, misleading promises of the BJP. Women are also worried about how more and more liquor shops are opened in villages, and Many husbands are getting abusive. At the same time, unemployed young people are getting frustrated,'' Gogoi said.

Asked about Majuli, the world's largest river island, Gogoi said the Vaishnavite heritage site is going to give a surprising result despite being considered a stronghold of the BJP.

''I am glad that Majuli is part of the Jorhat parliamentary constituency. Everyone has a deep spiritual connection with Majuli. It's a land of natural beauty with spiritual importance. It would give me immense pride to represent Majuli inside the Lok Sabha. I will speak about the aspirations of its people at a national forum,'' he added.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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