Former Congress leader Sushmita Dev on Tuesday said her joining the Trinamool Congress is “unconditional” and she will take any responsibility given to her by party president and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Dev, who was the chief of the women’s wing of the Congress, joined the TMC in the presence of senior party leaders Abhishek Banerjee and Derek O’Brien in Kolkata on Monday.
“I don’t think I have compromised my ideology in joining the TMC. My joining the TMC is unconditional and I will take any responsibility given to me by Mamata Banerjee,” Dev told reporters here.
A former MP, Dev was the national spokesperson of the grand old party and the chief of the All India Mahila Congress.
She sent her resignation letter to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, sources said, but offered no reason for her quitting.
“In my 30 years in politics, I haven’t demanded anything from the Congress high command,” Dev said.
Dev, who sidestepped any question regarding her reasons behind quitting the Congress, said it is wrong to compare Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Abhishek Banerjee and “dig up dirt” on the former.
“We don’t know what the future holds. You will see what magic unfolds when both (Rahul Gandhi and Abhishek Banerjee) come together,” she said.
“I have a long relationship with the Congress and I have written everything about that in my resignation letter. I got many opportunities in Congress and I tried to do justice to all the responsibilities. Many people tried to call me, but I was not available. On August 15, I gave the Congress president my resignation,” she said.
Showering praises on Mamata Banerjee, Dev said, “I am coming to the TMC office for the first time. Mamata Di (Mamata Banerjee) is my idol, and thanks to her for accepting me into the party.
“Under Mamata Banerjee’s leadership, I will make her vision more powerful. Mamata Di’s work in Bengal is inspiring. Several schemes of the Bengal government are praiseworthy and the fighting spirit of Mamata Banerjee is known to everyone. My relationship with Mamata Banerjee is not just political, we have family ties,” she said.
While neither Dev nor TMC MP and national spokesperson Derek O’Brien sitting beside her through the briefing described what her role would be in the party, sources indicate that she will be given “big responsibilities” in Assam and Tripura where the TMC is spreading its wings.
Sources said Dev was unhappy with the Congress high command over a few issues, including the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which she had supported going against the party’s stance.
Dev, who won the Silchar seat in Assam in 2014, lost in 2019. Silchar, a Bengali-dominated area is in favour of the CAA and after its enactment in 2019, but the stand of the Congress against it virtually sealed her fate.
Sources also indicated that Dev was upset with the handling of the CAA issue in her region by the Congress.
“Sushmita Dev has never spoken against the Constitution or human rights,” she said when asked about CAA.
O’Brien, who was asked if the TMC is breaking/poaching from the Congress said the party does not believe in such tactics.
“If there are talented people who share a similar vision and they reach out to us, we welcome them,” he said.
On the future strategy for Assam, the party leaders said, “Plan for Assam, Tripura or rest of the states will be revealed in September.”
Commenting on the impact of Dev joining the TMC on the opposition unity, the Rajya Sabha MP said on August 20, Sonia Gandhi has called a meeting and “reconfirmed” that Mamata Banerjee will be in attendance.
“In parliament, you have seen opposition working together. Every one among them has a different relationship but our goal is the same,” he said.