Kolkata/Guwahati: After resigning from the party membership early on Monday, former Assam Congress MP Sushmita Dev has joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC). Senior TMC leaders Abhishek Banerjee and Derek O’Brien welcomed Sushmita Dev into the party folds on Monday.

On Monday, the All India Trinamool Congress tweeted: “We warmly welcome the former President of All India Mahila Congress @sushmitadevinc to our Trinamool family! Inspired by @MamataOfficial, she joins us today in the presence of our National General Secretary @abhishekaitc & Parliamentary Party Leader, Rajya Sabha, @derekobrienmp.”

Shortly after quitting the Congress, former Assam MP Sushmita Dev on Monday met TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee at his office in south Kolkata, fuelling speculation about her next political move.

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According to sources in the grand old party, Dev, who had been serving as the All-India Mahila Congress chief, sent her resignation to party chief Sonia Gandhi late on Sunday.

A senior TMC leader said she might meet West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee later in the day.

“Dev visited Abhishek Banerjee’s Camac Street office during the day and held a meeting with him in the presence of other senior functionaries. She may also meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at Nabanna later today,” the TMC leader said.

Meanwhile, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Bhupen Bora told reporters in Guwahati that the former MP, who was also a national spokesperson of the grand old party, had to quit as “she is suffering from depression”.

Bora also asserted that Dev was given “adequate importance” by the party high command, and any “political reason” couldn’t have prompted her exit.

“This (resignation) is a sign of her depression. One cannot comprehend how much a defeat can affect a person, if he or she hasn’t seen Sushmita. Perhaps, she is lacking the self-confidence to re-build the party’s support base in Silchar once again,” he claimed.

Dev lost her Silchar Lok Sabha constituency to BJP’s Rajdeep Roy in 2019 General Election.

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Asked whether her departure will hurt the Congress, the Assam unit chief said, “When a family member leaves, it is never nice… We have to work on finding more leaders like her.”

In her letter to Gandhi, Dev said she was beginning a “new chapter in my life of public service”.

“I cherish my three-decade long association with the Indian National Congress…I hope I have your good wishes as I begin a new chapter in my life of public service,” she said in the letter.

She offered no reason for quitting the party.

The Congress maintained that no letter has been received from her but wished her well.

Party chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said he and other party leaders have tried to reach out to her but her phone was switched off.

“I am unable to speak to her as Sushmita ji’s phone is switched off. We have tried to reach out to her.

“Sushmita ji is a very dear friend. She is extremely versatile, talented and capable. Sonia Gandhi ji and Rahul Gandhi ji have always appreciated it,” he told reporters when asked about her resignation.

Another Congress leader Kapil Sibal has, however, said the party is moving on with its “eyes wide shut”.

“Sushmita Dev resigns from primary membership of our party. While young leaders leave we ‘oldies’ are blamed for our efforts to strengthen it,” the former union minister said on Twitter.

“The Party moves on with: Eyes Wide Shut,” Sibal added.

With PTI

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