Has the BJP given you Scheduled Tribe (ST) status? Have you received a daily wage of ₹351.33? Did you get land ‘patta’ (record of rights)?
These are the first three of 11 questions tea plantation workers — men and women — are being armed with across eastern Assam. The questionnaire, claims the All Assam Adivasi Students’ Association (AAASA), is apolitical although the BJP is mentioned in each query.
The AAASA had organised its 18th annual Mahasabha at Halem tea estate in north-eastern Assam’s Biswanath district from March 12-14. An elaborate discussion on the issues that matter most for the plantation workers led to printing the questionnaire.
“One may assume from the questionnaire that we are batting for Congress or any other opposition parties. The only reason that the questions are aimed at the BJP is that the party has been in power for five years along with its associates and the tea workers largely voted for them for the promised ‘parivartan’ (change) and ‘achche din’ (good days),” AAASA president Stephen Lakra told The Hindu on Wednesday.
“The idea behind giving each of our adult community members the 11-question leaflet is not to make any analysis but to let them be aware of the promises made so that they can ask questions to whenever BJP or AGP (ally Asom Gana Parishad) candidates or leaders canvass in their areas,” he said.
Each question, in Assamese, has two boxes where the person holding the leaflet has to tick “yes” or “no”.
The question on ST status tops the list because the BJP, like the Congress before, had promised to grant it, Mr. Lakra said.
The Adivasis, loosely referred to as “tea tribes” and “ex-tea (those no longer associated with tea plantations) tribes”, have been demanding ST status along with five other communities — Chutiya, Koch-Rajbongshi, Matak, Moran and Tai-Ahom.
The other questions are on issues such as provincialisation of schools in tea gardens, the establishment of 100 Navodaya Vidyalaya-like schools and installation of an ATM in each garden.
Among the questions is “What has been your ‘vikas’ (development) as promised by the BJP?”
The questionnaire ends with: “Will you vote for BJP again this time?”