New Delhi: Former Parliamentarian Sushmita Dev has joined the list of senior Congress leaders to quit the party recently, a fact that was reflected in her updated Twitter bio, which now reads ‘Former Member, Indian National Congress. Former President, All India Mahila Congress’.
In a letter dated 15 August and addressed to party president Sonia Gandhi, Dev said she was beginning “a new chapter” in her life of public service. ThePrint has a copy of the letter.
“Please treat this letter as my resignation from the primary membership of the Indian National Congress. I cherish my three-decade long association with the Indian National Congress.”
She also thanked Gandhi “for your guidance and the opportunities you gave me. I value the enriching experience”.
According to sources, Dev is already in Kolkata and is likely to join the Trinamool Congress, the ruling party in West Bengal led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. However, the party has not issued any official statement on the matter.
ThePrint reached Dev for a comment through phone calls and text messages, but didn’t receive a response until the time of publishing this report.
Dev was considered the Congress party’s face in Assam but had lost the 2019 Lok Sabha election to the BJP candidate.
Earlier this month, Twitter had temporarily blocked her account after she shared a photograph of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with the parents of the nine-year-old victim of an alleged rape and murder in Delhi.
‘Resignation a surprise’
According to sources, Dev’s resignation came as a surprise for many in the Congress.
Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said Sonia Gandhi had not received Dev’s resignation letter.
“I also saw the news on TV channels. I would like to say this. Till we are not able to speak to her I think it would not be right to speak on the matter,” he told media at a press conference Monday.
“I am unable to speak to her as Sushmita ji’s phone is switched off. I and Pranav Jha ji have tried since morning after we saw the news on your news channels. I only want to say at this juncture (that) Sushmita ji is a very very dear friend. She is extremely versatile. She is extremely talented and capable,” he added.
Surjewala further said Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have always “appreciated” Dev.
“She has a generational relationship with Congress ideology and Congress family and we treat her as a member of that family. I am certain that she is mature enough to take whatever political decision that she takes with an appropriate consideration of her history, her legacy as also her own capacity. I only wish her best for her future.”
Dev, who served as the MP from Silchar in Assam, is the daughter of senior Assam Congress leader Santosh Mohan Dev. Considered close to Rahul Gandhi, she had earlier expressed displeasure over the seat-sharing arrangements with the AIUDF ahead of this year’s Assam assembly election. She was also not on the same page as the party on the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
“This is not at all sudden. She was unhappy for a while and had made her displeasure apparent to the senior leaders. However, while her supporters were not given tickets, she also was unable to get the position she was vying for. She wanted to be incharge of the Tripura Congress but was denied. All this must have contributed to her resignation,” a senior Congress leader told ThePrint.
The news of Dev’s resignation evoked sharp reactions from some senior party leaders. Kapil Sibal, who was part of the G-23 leaders — the group that sought at an organisational overhaul within the party last year — tweeted: “Sushmita Dev Resigns from primary membership of our Party. While young leaders leave we ‘oldies’ are blamed for our efforts to strengthen it. The Party moves on with: Eyes Wide Shut (sic)”
Resigns from primary membership of our Party
While young leaders leave we ‘oldies’ are blamed for our efforts to strengthen it
The Party moves on with :
Eyes Wide Shut
— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) August 16, 2021
MP Manish Tewari too took to Twitter to say: “If this is true it is most unfortunate. Why @sushmitadevinc ? Your erstwhile colleagues & friends especially the person who was National President of @nsui when you contested your first @DUSUofficial elections back in 1991 deserve a better explanation than this laconic letter? (sic).”
If this is true it is most unfortunate
Why @sushmitadevinc ?
Your erstwhile colleagues & friends especially the person who was National President of @nsui when you contested your first @DUSUofficial elections back in 1991 deserve a better explanation than this laconic letter? pic.twitter.com/0thBTVFCmY
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) August 16, 2021
(Edited by Manasa Mohan)