“We’ve had a setback in Assam, but it not something we cannot overcome”
Ms Sushmita Dev, Congress MP from Silchar, Assam Party: Indian National Congress
The Congress has lost political ground in what used to be its last bastion, the North East. What would you attribute this loss to?
People wanted change. They wanted a paradigm shift. In an aspiring society, we need more than what we have. The Congress has ruled the state for long. It had become a predictable force. I suppose once predictability sets in, voters look for change. Now they will probably realize what the Congress did manage to do over all these years, or did not manage to do. They will get a chance to compare with what used to be, and what is the ground reality now. After all, everything is relative. Having said that, yes, it definitely is a setback for the Congress to lose power, especially after having dominated politics in Assam for so long. But it is not a setback that we cannot overcome, we will definitely overcome it.
Your family has been in political limelight for over five decades, with a small break in between…
Yes. We have been one of the prominent political families in Assam. My father, Mr Santosh Mohan Dev, was a national leader, a seven-term MP and a Union cabinet minister. He had the rare distinction of being elected from two different states, Assam and Tripura. My grandfather was a freedom fighter.
Politically your family has nurtured the Silchar constituency very well, remaining very close to the electorate and with ears to the ground at all times…
Yes. You cannot compare my constituency with those in urban areas like Delhi, Mumbai or Ahmedabad, for instance. In metropolitan constituencies voters do not expect that their MPs should know them. But the culture in smaller towns is different. What makes a difference is how you are connected to people. Everybody knows one another in Silchar. If you were to miss a wedding, everyone would want to know why you missed it. You are, therefore, not just an MP, but very much part of the social system. So we try to remain socially connected to people. That has been the strength of our family.