Tea workers announce ‘no vote’ agitation

Jhapa, June 13

As many as 300 workers from Giribandhu Tea Estate at Arjundhara Municipality, Jhapa, have announced a ‘no-vote’ agitation saying they will not cast their ballot in the upcoming phase II polls.

Devi Biswokarma, 40, who has been working in the tea estate for the past 17 years said, “ The party candidates solicit votes during polls and disappear later. Once the voting is over, they don’t think of solving the problems faced by workers. So, we have decided not to cast vote this time around.”

The tea estate quarter lacks electricity, clean drinking water, latrines and agricultural tools, among others, grieved Biswokarma. Workers in 50 quarters are forced to live in darkness due to lack of electricity supply.

Another worker Tika Katuwal, 49, recalled voting lawmaker Prem Giri from Jhapa Constituency No 4 in the last CA polls. Giri had assured he would illuminate the quarters by installing a transformer, but he was never seen or heard of.

“We will not cast the ballot this time for free. We shall vote after our water, electricity, toilet, and drinking water needs are fulfilled”, Katuwal said.

After the workers announced their agitation, candidates and leaders of various parties have started visiting the tea estate.

Worker Sitadevi Dhakal said tea estate workers were committed to not cast their votes until their demands were met. “We do not care who comes and goes to persuade us and it doesn’t really affects us,” Dhakal added.