New Delhi: Former Congress national spokesperson Sushmita Dev, who joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) Monday, said she had not made any “ideological compromises” in leaving the party, adding that it will not impact opposition unity in any way.
“I don’t think joining TMC is in any way counterproductive to the larger picture that we all are looking towards in the future,” Dev said at a press conference Tuesday.
Former Lok Sabha MP Dev’s induction in the TMC comes at a time when Opposition parties, including the Congress and the Trinamool Congress, are working towards stitching together a coalition against the BJP at the national level.
Dev, who was associated with the Congress for 30 years and also served as its women’s wing chief, said she does not have any grievance towards either Congress president Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi. “I have absolutely no grievance. But I believe that for the purpose that I want to serve, especially in the area I come from (Assam), the TMC is an excellent platform for me,” she said.
“I am hopeful that after taking membership of Trinamool Congress, under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee and guidance of Abhishek Banerjee, we can strengthen the vision of Trinamool Congress,” she added.
Dev, however, reiterated that it does not mean she disregards the quality of leadership that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have given nationally over the years. “I am not undermining the work they have done,” she said.
Senior Trinamool leader and the party’s national spokesperson Derek O’ Brien, who jointly addressed the press conference, said the “Trinamool Congress does not have to poach… does not have to break” parties.
“However, if there are good people, if there are talented people, if there are committed people who reach out to us, who share the dreams and aspirations of our party chairman Mamata Banerjee and our new general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, our chairperson has a track record of delivering and we will welcome such people,” he added.
O’Brien said Mamata Banerjee will be present along with other leaders at the 20 August virtual meeting that Sonia Gandhi has called to discuss strategy issues related to opposition unity.
‘Unconditional, father knew Mamata’
Dev said she joined the Trinamool Congress without any conditions. “When a new relationship starts, it’s based on trust. And I would like to work for the party in whatever capacity Mamata Banerjee gives me,” she said.
The former Congress leader also said her father, the late MP Santosh Mohan Dev, who represented the Congress from Assam and Tripura multiple times, knew Banerjee well. “The politics that my father did, that Mamata Banerjee does, there is not much difference in that…” she said.
Dev also said it is wrong to compare Rahul Gandhi and TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, who is also Mamata’s nephew. “I have worked under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, when he was Congress president, and now I will work under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek,” she said. “Both have their plus points and we will have to wait and see what results their association could bring in future.”
Abhishek Banerjee also came in for praise from Dev.
“He has immense clarity. He is confident about the vision and I believe that he can take that vision to the ground in whichever direction and in whichever part of the country. I have complete faith in Mamata Banerjee,” she said.
Dev had earlier served as the MP from Silchar, and was one of the Congress party’s most visible faces in Assam. She, however, lost the 2019 Lok Sabha election to the BJP’s Rajdeep Roy.
She was considered close to Rahul Gandhi but, according to party sources, was upset over the Congress’ seat-sharing arrangements with the AIUDF in the Assam assembly elections earlier this year, and the fact that many of her supporters did not get tickets.
She was also unhappy with the Congress’ stand on the Citizenship Amendment Act.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)