Bengal’s daughter in the saddle for third time

Kolkata : ‘Nation’s Didi’ Mamata Banerjee, the firebrand leader of West Bengal politics, once again proved a master strategist, decimating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and new Congress-Left-ISF alliance christened as “Samyukta Morcha” all of whom sought to checkmate her return to power.

After a phenomenal victory in the Assembly polls, Trinamool Congress (TMC) spremo Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday was sworn in as West Bengal Chief Minister for third consecutive term .

Defeating all odds, the 66-year-old feisty leader, who had single-handedly wrecked the red bastion in West Bengal in 2011 ousting Left Front’s uninterrupted 34-year-old rule, coasted to a two third majority in this year election, winning 213 seats, bettering its performance of 211 in the outgoing Assembly.

The ‘daughter of Bengal’ also faced an all out attack by BJP which fielded top party stalwarts led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, J P Nadda a battery of Union Ministers and state leaders for campaigning but they finally found that there was no way to stop her Trinamool Congress from romping home to victory.

It is the Bharatiya Janata Party that trespassed her dominion after gaining overwhelming results from the state in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. And, the emergence of the Left-Congress-ISF alliance has made the situation more complicated for her.

Ms Banerjee is serving as the 8th and current Chief Minister of West Bengal since 2011, the first woman to hold the office.

She founded the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC or TMC) party in 1998 after separating from the Indian National Congress, and became its first chairperson. She is often referred to as Didi by her followers and as Pishi (meaning paternal aunt in Bengali) by many of her critics.

Ms Banerjee previously served twice as Minister of Railways, the first woman to do so. She is also the first female Minister of Coal, and Minister of Human Resource Development, Youth Affairs and Sports, Women and Child Development in the cabinet of the central government.

She rose to prominence after opposing the erstwhile land acquisition policies for industrialisation of the Communist government in West Bengal for Special Economic Zones at the cost of agriculturalists and farmers at Singur.

In 2011 Banerjee pulled off a landslide victory for the AITC alliance in West Bengal, defeating the 34-year-old Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front government, the world’s longest-serving democratically elected communist government, in the process.

She has also been credited for setting up of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.

In the 2016 assembly elections, All India Trinamool Congress won with a landslide two-thirds majority under Mamata Banerjee winning 211 seats out of total 294, who has been elected as Chief Minister West Bengal for the second term.

All India Trinamool Congress won with an enhanced majority contesting alone and became the first ruling party to win without an ally since 1962 in West Bengal.

Ms Banerjee became involved with politics when she was only 15. While studying at the Jogamaya Devi College, she established Chhatra Parishad Unions, the student wing of the Congress (I) Party, defeating the All India Democratic Students Organisation affiliated with the Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist).

She continued in the Congress (I) Party in West Bengal, serving in a variety of positions within the party and in other local political organizations.

Ms Banerjee began her political career in the Congress party as a young woman in the 1970s. In 1975 she gained attention in the press media when she danced on the car of socialist activist and politician Jayaprakash Narayan as a protest against him. She quickly rose in the ranks of the local Congress group and remained the general secretary of Mahila Congress (Indira), West Bengal, from 1976 to 1980.

In the 1984 general election, Ms Banerjee became one of India’s youngest parliamentarians ever, defeating veteran Communist politician Somnath Chatterjee, to win the Jadavpur parliamentary Constituency in West Bengal.

She also became the general secretary of the Indian Youth Congress in 1984. She lost her seat to Malini Bhattacharya of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in the 1989 general elections in an anti-Congress wave.] She was re-elected in the 1991 general elections, having settled into the Calcutta South constituency. She retained the Kolkata South seat in the 1996, 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2009 general elections.

Ms Banerjee was appointed the Union Minister of State for Human Resources Development, Youth Affairs and Sports, and Women and Child Development in 1991 by prime minister, P. V. Narasimha Rao.

As the sports minister, she announced that she would resign and protested in a rally at the Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata, against the Government’s indifference towards her proposal to improve sports in the country. She was discharged of her portfolios in 1993.

In April 1996, she alleged that Congress was behaving as a stooge of the CPI-M in West Bengal. She claimed that she was the lone voice of reason and wanted a “clean Congress”.

In 1997, due to difference in political views with the then West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Somendra Nath Mitra, Banerjee left the Congress Party in West Bengal and became one of the founding members of the All India Trinamool Congress, along with Mukul Roy. It quickly became the primary opposition party to the long-standing Communist government in the state.

Throughout her political life, Ms Banerjee has maintained a publicly austere lifestyle, dressing in simple traditional Bengali clothes and avoiding luxuries.

In 2012, Time magazine named her as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Bloomberg Markets magazine listed her among the 50 most influential people in the world of finance in September 2012.

In 2018, she was conferred the Skoch Chief Minister of the Year Award.