The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the RSS-backed trade union, and the BJP Kurseong MLA, B.P. Sharma, have decided to stay away from the party’s tea workers’ meeting in Siliguri on Sunday.
The event at Dagapur on the northern outskirts of the city has been planned toinvigorate the party’s support base in the tea belt of this region ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
In north Bengal, the results of three parliamentary constituencies — Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar — depend on the support of the tea population. In 2019, the BJP won all three seats.
Sources in the BMS said that instead of the meeting, convened by the BJP’s trade union relations cell, it would be better if the BJP leaders here take a more practical approach to redress theproblems of workers and their families by reaching out to them.
“Our trade union conducts and attends different events at the grassroots and directly interacts with workers for a better understanding of their situation. We don’t believe that some loud speeches from the dais will help them,” said a source in the BMS.
A senior functionary of the union said they always prefer to work from ground zero, but the political gathering on Sunday “has nothing to do with the workers’ daily livelihood”.
Biswajit Guha, the state secretary of the BMS, confirmed that they would not attend the meeting.
“We are an apolitical organisation and there is no question of attending a political event. Our trade union works for tea workers, but never from any political platform,” Guha said over the phone.
The Kurseong MLA, who was vocal against the Centre for not addressing the hills’ demand for a permanent political solution, will not attend the meeting. The BJP has plans to bring in thousands of tea workers at the meeting from the Darjeeling hills, Terai and the Dooars.
“I will not attend the meeting in protest. This is because MLAs of our party who have got elected from tea belts have remained silent in the Assembly on issues pertaining to tea workers,” Sharma said.
A political observer said the stand of the BMS leadership against the BJP was “significant”.
“The RSS has a good organisation in the tea belt. In the last Parliament polls and in the Assembly elections of 2021, this organisational strength of the RSS and its affiliates helped the BJP win seats,” he said.
BJP leaders of Siliguri (organisational) district refused to comment on the decision of the BMS and the MLA to stay away.