Assam Congress leader Sushmita Dev who recently switched to the Trinamool Congress says her erstwhile party is “utterly confused” in the state. Speaking to News18 in Kolkata, she elaborated on the TMC’s plans for expansion and the 2024 general elections, while she described Abhishek Banerjee as “determined” and Rahul Gandhi as “visionary and idealistic”. Edited excerpts:
How are you feeling after moving from the Congress to the TMC?
It feels good, especially when you get a call from southern India and they speak about Mamata Didi. It feels great that I am working for a leader who has popularity nationwide. Everybody is welcoming my move and particularly in the Northeast… Definitely, I have not changed my ideology, and therefore there is goodwill for the family and from people in my home state…I am getting a huge number of calls from across India.
What is the situation of the Congress in the Northeast? And what are your plans?
The party will decide that. But I have something to say on this, particularly on Assam. There are four parties in Assam: Congress, AGP, AIUDF and BJP. AIUDF compromised with the BJP, and others too. All of them wrote great things about Himanta Biswa Sarma then. Where is the opposition in Assam? All of them have compromised with the BJP. So TMC will do well there.
You are saying the Congress has compromised with the BJP?
Yes, I feel that. Maybe I am wrong, but this alliance too had Himanta’s hand in it through the AIUDF. Himanta’s people are still there in Congress… Sometimes they talk about alliance, then about Rajya Sabha…They are utterly confused there. They really don’t know what they are doing. The people who have grievances against the government don’t know who will speak on their behalf. The TMC will work for the people with the vision of Mamata Didi and will lead a movement on people’s issues. Power politics is not our motto. Building up the organisation is important.
What do you think about the Tripura situation?
See as far as the Congress is concerned, they have totally neglected Tripura. For them, it is only 2 (Lok Sabha) seats. For Mamata Didi, it is different. For Abhishek, it is different. They are totally focused. They are taking up the Tripura issue in every way. The day the Congress tied up with the Left, it was a clear signal…For the past two years or so, the Congress hasn’t had a committee there.
How do you find Abhishek Banerjee and Rahul Gandhi?
Abhishek Banerjee has fire in his belly. He does not have a sense of entitlement. He has also struggled a lot. He heard a lot of criticism but he proved himself. Rahul Gandhi is visionary and idealistic. Abhishek has determination and I am happy working under him.
What do you have to say on the G23 Congress dissenters’ suggestions, and who will be the 2024 face for the opposition?
It is not right to come up with a theory criticising your party from the outside. I will not say much on the Congress. It is good that 15 parties are sitting together. We will follow what Mamata Didi, Pawarji and Soniaji say. The mood of the nation is different this time and the people will go a different way this time.