With the demise of Santosh Mohan Dev, the Northeast has not only lost one of its famous sons, but also a voice that made its presence felt in Delhi. The departed politician, who was more popular as Ranada was always ready to help the fellow North-Easterners whenever approached. Besides, he was a very straight forward person. Once one journalist asked him about his achievements as a politician? Even before the journalist could finish his question, Ranada without any hesitation informed how many youths from the region were employed in paramilitary forces during his tenure as Minister of States Home Affairs, being fully aware that his political enemies might term his efforts as nepotism. But he was not bothered. On being advised that such boldness might not advance his career as a politician in Delhi, Ranada promptly replied, “If I have done anything wrong, I will have to face the consequences. Concealing the facts would land me in more trouble. So it is always better to speak the truth. There can’t be two sets of rule – one for the politician and another for ordinary human beings.”
It may sound strange, but the fact remains that such boldness had earned him many friends than foes. Because, everyone knew that whatever advices he offered would help to solve the problem. One of his big admirers was the late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The admiration was evident from the fact that during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure as the prime minister, Ranada rose to prominence and became a leader of national stature. But even Rajiv Gandhi could not escape from Ranada’s plain speaking. In 1990, after the defeat of the Congress party in the general elections, AICC session was called. Leaders presented their arguments on what brought Congress’ downfall. When Ranada’s turn came, he asked a simple question. What prompted the party to advance the general election? “Was it on the advice of an astrologer or on the suggestion of computer? Everyone present in the said session thought that in party where the tradition is to praise the leader, Ranada dug his own grave by criticising Rajiv Gandhi. But Rajiv Gandhi realised what Ranada actually meant to say. So Ranada was never punished. Rather when Congress was in opposition, he was made the chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the most prestigious committee of the Parliament.
Like life, in politics too, it is hard to get true friends but Ranada was lucky. Starting from Hiteswar Saikia to Samir Ranjan Burman in Tripura, all contemporary politicians from the Northeast region were his friends. It was he who predicted that only Mamata Banerjee could dethrone the Left in West Bengal. Beyond doubt, he had incapable political acumen. He was instrumental in bringing back Congress to power in Tripura. Many suggested that after the success, the same formula should be adopted in West Bengal too. But Ranada politely refused the offer as the Northeast region and its people were his priorities. He never thought of leaving them just for personal glory. That was Santosh Mohan Dev. RIP.