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20 Feb 2018

TMC eye on closed gardens for polls

The closed Demdima Tea Estate owned by Duncans Goenka Group
ANIRBAN CHOUDHURY, TT, Feb 19, 2018 : Alipurduar: Closed tea estates, particularly those of the Duncans Goenka Group, have become part of Trinamul's agenda in Alipurduar district ahead of panchayat polls.

The same tea estates had helped the BJP in the Dooars in the Assembly polls of 2016.

The BJP had managed to secure votes from all the closed tea estates of Duncans Goenka Group at the Assembly polls and managed to win the Madarihat Assembly seat. Workers and their family members of these gardens, abandoned by the tea group then, were assured by central ministers and BJP leaders that the Centre would make some moves to reopen the gardens.

"However, the central government miserably failed to reopen any of these gardens. The state government, instead, continued negotiations with the tea group and managed to persuade them to reopen some gardens. The process is on and we are confident that all gardens of the company and other closed tea estates of Alipurduar (there are eight such gardens) will reopen ahead of panchayat elections. We have started highlighting the success of the state and the Centre's failure," said a senior Trinamul leader.

The plan, party insiders said, is to use the "counter strategy" to weaken the BJP in the Dooars, particularly in Birpara-Madarihat block where they have an MLA.

"Trinamul's confidence has been further bolstered by the recent defections from Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the Dooars. Most of the Morcha leaders and workers on whom BJP had banked and who were instrumental in the party's win in Madarihat, have joined Trinamul," said an observer.

Recently, Huntapara and Garganda, two tea estates of Duncans, located in the block, have reopened. Also, there are prospects that Demdima, another garden of the group, will reopen soon.

"A meeting will be held in Calcutta on February 27 to discuss on Demdima," said a source.

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