NEW DELHI: As the Congress in Assam has been facing an existential crisis due to many of its leaders leaving the grand old party, The Sunday Guardian talked to former Congress president in Assam and ex-Rajya Sabha member Ripun Bora who recently switched to TMC from the Congress and is now the president of the party in Assam, to know why he left the Congress and what his plans are in the TMC. Excerpts:
Q: Why did you leave the Congress?
A: Millions of Congress workers are demoralized and the BJP is growing day by day; because of that I thought if I continue in Congress, I will not be able to oppose the BJP in the coming days. Mamata Banerjee is fighting so aggressively. Take for example in West Bengal. In the same way I thought whatever capacity and caliber I have left in me, I will contribute in battle against the BJP. That’s why I joined the TMC.
Q: You were the most favoured person in the Congress, Congressmen say you have betrayed the party, what do you have to say about that?
A: It is not the question of betrayal, it is the question of fighting for the country, because the way BJP is growing since 2014, Congress being the secular grand old party couldn’t do anything and moreover, BJP has been messing with the ideology of Congress. It is the duty of the Congress to combat the BJP, but the Congress in the entire country and in most of the states, particularly in my state, are fighting each other for their self interests or vested interests as a result, the party is totally disconnected with the common people. So there is no question of betrayal rather it is for the fight in favour of the secularism, democracy and Constitution of this country.
Q: The Congress had made you president and also given you berth in Rajya Sabha, after all that, you left the party, do you think it has set a bad precedent?
A: I am not the only example; there are so many people who have already left the Congress and you see what I have done is for the interest of the Constitution and secularism of the country. So you say Congress has given RS berth and this and that, if just for that I don’t object against the Congress and I remain a mute spectator, then BJP will finish the social fabric of the country. Congress and the TMC are same, but the TMC has a plan for the big journey in the country.
Q: Do you mean to say the Congress couldn’t take a stand against BJP and that is the sole reason you left the party?
A: Yes, this is the need of the hour now, it has come to our country in such a way there is price rise inflation, unemployment, in secularism, economy development, democracy, constitution, the threat has come the way the Congress should have stood against the BJP was not seen. Particularly in my state, these Congress leaders are hobnobbing with BJP leaders, compromising the great ideology of Congress. If in my state, I do not stand against them, then what is my use, therefore I decided to switch.
Q: Now that you are the president of TMC in Assam, what will be your immediate focus area?
A: My immediate focus is that TMC has no organisation in Assam, we are just starting from zero and my focus will be to build up the TMC as a vibrant opposition in due course in Assam which is the only alternate to BJP and make it a principal opposition.
Q: What will be your impact in TMC, will more people join you from other parties, particularly from Congress?
A: Yes, more people will be joining, they are already in touch with us and in due course, people will join us. On Wednesday this week, some people joined us from other parties where Mahua Moitra was also present. Meghalaya ex Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and Sushmita Dev had also joined us.
Q: What are your plans for the next five years in the TMC?
A: Trinamool means grassroots, my plan in next five years is, we will go to grassroots; we will go to the people. In Assam, there is no opposition party here now, all the opposition parties have been shattered and are in the pockets of the BJP. We will go to the people and grassroots and raise the voice of the people so that we could emerge as a strong opposition party.