LF leaders blame minister for tea plantation ‘politicking’

JALPAIGURI, Jan. 2: The Jalpaiguri district Left Front leaders today held the Union minister of state for commerce and industry Mr Jairam Ramesh responsible for politicking over the closed tea plantations of north Bengal.

The leaders alleged that the minister's frequent visits to north Bengal and verbal assurance to reopen 13 locked tea plantations in the Dooars, is politically laced.
“Despite the assurances to reopen the locked tea plantations, the minister has failed to keep his word. Though some plantations opened for some time, they closed down again,” the RSP district secretary Mr Sunil Banik said.

The leader also added that his party did not support Mr Ramesh's theory of worker retrenchment.

“Mr Ramesh has suggested voluntary retirement for the tea workers to help the plantation owners but according to an understanding between the tea industry and the workers’ unions during Mr Jyoti Basu's tenure as chief minister, the industry captains had agreed to appoint 10,000 additional workers in the tea plantations, which remains to be fulfilled. Mr Ramesh's frequent visits to Jalpaiguri are politically motivated,” Mr Banik, said.

The CPI district secretary Mr Pabitra Bhattacharya alleged that the Centre had no interest in reopening the plantations and Mr Ramesh's visits were simply an eyewash.
The Forward Bloc district secretary Mr Gobinda Roy said the Centre had no specific plans to reopen the closed plantations. “The minister is only working for the plantation owners’ interest to gain support for his party,” Mr Roy alleged.