Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday alleged that an international conspiracy has been hatched to tarnish the image of Indian tea, PTI reported. He made the remarks in Assam’s Dhekiajuli, a tea-growing area, focusing on plantation workers, ahead of the elections.

The prime minister said he has always linked the condition of tea garden workers to the development of Assam.

“But documents have emerged to show that a conspiracy has been hatched outside the country to defame Indian tea,” he added. “I am sure the tea workers from Assam will give a befitting reply. No tea garden worker in Assam can tolerate this attack and I am sure they will win this fight against these conspirators as they are stronger than these forces with vested interest.”

Modi was apparently referring to non-governmental organisation Greenpeace’s report about alleged overuse of pesticides in Indian tea industry.

He said the Centre had earmarked Rs 1,000 crore for the tea sector in the Union Budget and an assistance of Rs 3,000 was extended to each tea garden worker of Assam on Saturday.

Before this, Modi spoke about the Bodoland Territorial Council elections at an event in Sontipur district to inaugurate the multi-crore “Asom Mala” highways and road project. He said the polls ushered in trust and peace in the North East.

The Bharatiya Janata Party had won nine constituencies in the elections held in December 2020. This was a significant improvement over its performance in previous election, in which it won only one seat.

“Assam is playing a leading role in the development of the Northeast,” the prime minister said. “After the historic Bodo Agreement, the Bodo Territorial Council elections have written a new chapter of trust and development in the region.”

Modi added that under the new project, Assam will have a huge network of highways in the next 15 years. “Every village will be connected with roads to cities, and every city should be connected with the rest of India,” he said. “All of these will take place under the Asom Mala project.”

The prime minister said that better connectivity will help industries and tourism flourish in Assam. “It will help youth of the state to get more opportunities and employment,” he added.

Modi also laid the foundation for two new medical colleges.Till 2016, Assam had only six medical colleges,” the prime minister said. “In the last five years, we’ve started work on six more medical colleges. Till 2016, Assam had only nearly 725 MBBS seats. These new medical colleges would add 1,600 new MBBS doctors every year to Assam after they start functioning.”

Modi promised that the BJP will set up a new medical and technical college to impart education in Assamese. “Work is also rapidly progressing on AIIMS in Guwahati,” he added. “The first batch has already started this year.” The prime minister also announced a Rs 1,000-crore package for tea plantation workers.

The prime minister is also scheduled to visit West Bengal, another state where elections are due this year, later in the day. He will address a rally in Haldia in East Midnapore in the evening.