Former Assam MP and the Congress’ women’s wing chief Sushmita Dev resigned from the party on Monday and joined the Trinamool Congress.

“We warmly welcome the former President of All India Mahila Congress Sushmita Dev to our Trinamool family,” the party tweeted.

In a letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, dated August 15, Dev had not mentioned any reason for her decision to leave the party.

Dev, however, said that she was going to begin “a new chapter in my life of public services”. She also updated her Twitter bio which now describes her as a former member of the Congress.

‘Congress moves on with eyes wide shut’: Kapil Sibal

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal criticised the party after Dev’s exit. He was part of the G-23, the group that had questioned the Congress’ functioning in a letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi last year.

“Sushmita Dev resigns from primary membership of our party,” Sibal tweeted. “While young leaders leave we ‘oldies’ are blamed for our efforts to strengthen it. The party moves on with: eyes wide shut.”

Sibal also told PTI on Monday that he would continue to make attempts for the Congress to become a prominent face of the Opposition’s unity against the Narendra Modi government.

“This is not about me, but about a revival of the Congress and bringing it to the forefront of Opposition unity,” Sibal told the news agency. “Without the Congress being strong, there can be no Opposition unity.”

Party MP and former chief of the Congress’ Assam unit Ripun Bora expressed disappointment at Dev’s decision.

“Sushmita Dev was a dedicated Congress leader, [I] never thought she would take such a decision,” Bora told ANI. “We were like family. If she had anything against the party, she should have discussed it. I request her to reconsider her decision and withdraw [her] resignation.”

Congress had dismissed speculation of her quitting

Dev was among the several Congress leaders whose Twitter accounts were locked earlier this week. The official handle of the party was also locked for “violating our rules against posting private information”, a purported screenshot from the social media platform showed.

This came days after Twitter locked Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s account for sharing a photo that revealed the identity of the family of a nine-year-old Dalit girl who was allegedly raped, murdered and forcibly cremated in Delhi. Gandhi’s tweet was also removed.

The Congress criticised Twitter for the action and several users, including Dev, changed their display pictures to Gandhi’s image.

Besides heading the All India Mahila Congress, Dev was one of the party’s most prominent leaders in Assam. She also won the Silchar Lok Sabha constituency in 2014 before losing to Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Rajdeep Roy in 2019.

There were reports of a rift within the Assam unit of Congress over seat sharing ahead of Assembly elections in the state earlier this year. Dev had reportedly walked out of a party meeting on the selection of candidates. However, she had dismissed the possibility of quitting the party back then and said that she loved “the party and madam [Sonia Gandhi]”.