The Aam Aadmi Party in Kerala, it seems, has got a new lease of life. A group of women estate workers in Munnar—who had successfully organised an agitation against the subjugation of tea workers by the managements in 2015—have merged with the AAP in the state. Around 4,000 members of Pengal Otrumai would now be affiliated to the trade union of the AAP in Kerala.
Said AAP’s Kerala in-charge, Somnath Bharti, to THE WEEK: “The AAP in Kerala will only emerge stronger with the support of Pengal Otrumai. We are a party for all downtrodden sections of society. It is a fact that the poor in the country look up to the AAP. We are working very hard in Kerala, and I am sure in a year from now we will be a force to reckon with in Kerala politics.”
In October 2015, Pengal Ottrumai workers protested against the alleged exploitation of tea plantation workers by the trade unions under the instructions of the estate managements. The agitation, led by women without the support of any political party, brought out their concerns to the public.
Pengal Otrumai president Lissie Sunny said that the AAP came to its rescue when all other parties had dismissed it. Said she to THE WEEK, “No party cared for us, or even talked to us, after the agitation. They thought we would be a burden. Our alliance with the AAP will do good to both the fronts.”
Said C.R. Neelakantan, AAP convener in Kerala, to THE WEEK: “We have been in touch with Pengal Otrumai for a year or so. They are an organisation challenging the mainstream. So we are natural allies. The idea to merge with us was theirs, not ours.”