GUWAHATI, July 21 � The Resentment is growing here every passing day over the enthusiasm of the Union Industry and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma to appoint West Bengal cadre IAS officer Subesh Das as the chairman of the Tea Board of India. The issue was also raised in the latest session of the State Assembly.
Tea industry sources here have been voicing their resentment over the Union Minister�s act of sending Das� name to the Prime Minister�s Office (PMO) for final approval for the purpose.
The term of the post is for five years. But Das, the former Principal Secretary to the former West Bengal Chief Minister Budhadev Bhattacharjee, is going to retire within about two years� time, said the tea industry sources.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Industries and Commerce, NE Region, (FINER) has expressed its resentment over the move of the Union Minister. Talking to this newspaper, FINER chairman RS Joshi said that his organisation has taken up the issue with both the Central and the State governments.
�It seems some West Bengal lobbies are quite active to damage the interest of the NE region. This time, it was Assam�s turn (to get the post of the Tea Board Chairman). But, Assam has been deprived. Such treatments are always meted out to Assam and the NE region. This is the product of the step-motherly attitude (of the Centre),� said the FINER chairman.
He demanded that the Central government should honour the convention in regard to appointment of the Tea Board Chairman.
It needs mention here that the All Assam Students� Union (AASU) and the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba-Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) have also expressed their resentment over the development. The move has been opposed here by all the conscious people.
Tea industry sources here said that this time Assam had sent a list containing the names of five willing Assam cadre IAS (three) and Indian Forest Service (two) officers as its nominees for the post. All of them are still eligible for the post.
Perhaps this list was the longest list of nominees sent by any State for the post this time, sources said.
However, some quarters are now trying to give the impression that none of the Assam cadre officers named in the list were willing to join the post. There is scope to doubt that this is done at the behest of the vested interest circles, claimed the tea industry sources.
Such moves have been hurting the sentiments of the common people here for quite a long time during the post-independence period. And the move of the Union Minister has come at a time when the people of the State have been demanding shifting of the Tea Board headquarters to Assam, said the tea industry sources.
Assam alone produces 51 per cent of the country�s total tea, against the 23 per cent produced by West Bengal. Tea is grown in almost all the 27 districts of Assam, in contrast to the two districts in West Bengal. As per the figures of the Tea Board of India, Assam has 64,597 small tea gardens, against West Bengal�s 9,990. Assam tea industry has around 10 lakh workers and women constitute 50 per cent of them.
By this time, the conspiracy by the vested interest circles to deny Assam its legitimate due in this respect has resulted in the abnormal delay in permanent appointment of the Tea Board Chairman.
For the past nine months, two chairmen of the Board were appointed on ad-hoc basis, leading to a stalemate in the functioning of the Board, said the tea industry sources.