The Gauhati High Court has ordered the state government not to take any action against the Indian Tea Association and 17 tea companies, which own nearly 90% of some 800 tea estates, until a case, filed challenging the Assam Labor Department’s notification on the wage hike, is disposed of.

Assam state government on February 23 had hiked the daily wage of tea garden workers by Rs 50. The daily wage was hiked from Rs 167 to Rs 217. But the workers were not amused as the BJP had promised daily wage of Rs 351 in 2016.

In this election, the Congress has promised wages of Rs 365 to the tea community if the party is voted to power.

Hearing the petition, Justice Michael Zothankhuma said the state authorities “shall not take any coercive action” till March 15 when the case is heard next. As the poll campaign heats up in the state, the focus of BJP and Congress has been more on the tea garden votes.

Assam has 126 Assembly segments and in around one/third of them, the votes of tea workers determine the fate of candidates.