GUWAHATI, March 30 - The Congress is gradually losing its traditional bastion among the tea garden communities of Upper Assam areas, while the BJP is rapidly expanding its base among these communities. This has given the BJP an edge over the Congress in Upper Assam in terms of electoral success.
At least 50 per cent of the tea community votes is expected to swing in favour of the BJP this time around, said political observers here who have been keenly observing the voting patterns in the Upper Assam tea garden areas for decades.
Elaborating on this, the observers pointed out the BJP could make effective inroads into the Congress strongholds in the Upper Assam tea belt areas during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections by riding on the Narendra Modi wave. It subsequently consolidated its 2014 gains in these areas and in the 2016 Assembly and 2018 Panchayat elections, the saffron party further expanded its base among the tea garden communities.
The BJP has mainly gained from the dwindling influence of the Congress-controlled Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) on the tea garden communities, particularly their educated youths. Several organisations have also cropped up among the tea garden communities lately and most of them are opposed to the ACMS. Better communication network and proliferation of the TV culture have also strengthened the anti-ACMS attitude among the tea garden communities.
All this has changed the mindset of the tea garden communities in the Upper Assam areas and the BJP is reaping the benefits of all these developments.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is of the belief that the BJP is now in a position to capture nearly 80 per cent of the tea garden community votes in the Upper Assam areas. A senior Sangh functionary told this newspaper that the RSS has been doing the spadework for the BJP in the Upper Assam tea garden areas for the past about two decades in a concerted manner. In the Brahmaputra Valley, the RSS has its district-level monitoring organisation, Seva Bharati, operating in the tea belt areas, while its Banavasi Kalyan Ashrams, Ekkal Vidyalayas and Sanskar Kendras are also active in these areas. As of now, the RSS has around 15,000 Sanskar Kendras and 800 Ekkal Vidyalayas in the Upper Assam tea belt areas, said the RSS functionary.