Sushmita Dev’s resignation hasn’t come as surprise to Assam Congress
Former member of parliament from Silchar, Assam, Sushmita Dev officially resigned from the Congress on Sunday and sought good wishes from party chief Sonia Gandhi for her “new chapter of public service”. She also resigned from the post of All India Mahila Congress President on August 15.
But this did not happen overnight, she had hinted at this on July 26 during a press conference in Silchar. Recently when her Twitter account was blocked for a while, she unofficially said, “Wait for 2-3 days, something big is coming.”
The move to quit Congress started during the Assam assembly election this year when Dev and then APCC president Ripun Bora disagreed on seat distribution for Barak Valley region of the state. According to Dev, out of 15 seats in Barak Valley, APCC president wanted to give 8 seats to Congress, allowing alliance partner All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) to contest from the rest. Later, Congress contested from 11 seats winning in four of them.
“If six to seven seats were given away in Barak Valley, why should grassroots level workers remain in Congress in tough times? I raised this question on behalf of each and every party worker in Barak Valley,” she said in March.
She also hinted at her resignation just before the Assam-Mizoram conflict when she said, “I have already talked to Sonia ji regarding my decision to quit some big responsibilities in Congress party. My decision will be in public soon.”
She pointed out that APCC did not give her proper respect during the state assembly elections. She said, “I am the kingmaker in Barak Valley and we have performed much better than the Brahmaputra Valley. In alliance with the AIUDF, we won 9 out of 15 seats in Barak Valley. Sonia Gandhi ji is happy with our performance, but APCC did not give our hard-fought win proper respect. Some APCC leaders treat us as if we are nobody. My family has contributed towards the party…We cannot continue serving like second class workers in the party.”
She also said that some senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders were suggesting her to join their party before assembly election this year. “Some ministers tried to influence me to join the BJP before the election. Politics is a part of my life and I need to feel comfortable while taking decisions. I turned down their requests.”
Congress leaders in Barak Valley are not surprised by Dev’s decision. Her childhood friend and former president of Silchar District Congress Committee, Tamal Kanti Banik, said, “We are not shocked…She chose her own career over her father’s legacy and the Congress itself…We are bit sad that a family (Santosh Mohan Dev’s family) which has almost five decade-long relationship with the Congress is no longer a part it.”
APCC working president Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha said, “Sushmita Dev was upset since disagreement on ticket distribution before the assembly election. I cannot support her decision of quitting. The Congress has given everything to her family — from making her father a Union minister to selecting her as the president of All India Mahila Congress. I am yet to talk to her but I feel that she has preferred her career over the party.”
He also said Dev’s absence won’t be a big factor. “During the Emergency in 1970s, the Congress was almost finished, but we came back stronger…We are going through another tough phase and this will also end. Sushmita Dev should have realised that a person’s absence doesn’t make [much of a] change because thousands of dedicated people are working for the party.”