• Ashu Bisht

Mamta Banarjee: History and Political Career Of Undefeated Queen of Bengal

Mamata Banerjee also known as Didi, is the ninth Chief Minister of West Bengal and the first woman to hold office in the state. She joined Congress (I) in the early years of 1970s and started her political career, and from then there was no looking back for Mamata. Today, she is one among the big names in the Indian political history.

Mamata Banerjee's political career- A look

“Mamata rose quickly in her political career through the ranks of the local Congress group. She served as the general secretary of Mahila Congress in West Bengal from 1976 to 1980.”

Born in a Bengali family in Kolkata on January 5, 1955, Mamata Banerjee was interested in politics from her school days. She is an alumni of the University of Calcutta where she studied history and Islamic history. At the age of 15, she founded Chhatra Parishad Unions, the student wing of Congress Party, while studying at Jogamaya Devi College. She continued her work in the Congress Party in West Bengal and served in various positions within the party and other local political organizations.

In 1984, she was first elected as a member of Lok Sabha and became one of India's youngest women parliamentarians when she defeated veteran communist politician Somnath Chatterjee in the Jadavpur constituency. In the same year, she also became the general secretary of Indian Youth Congress. However, Mamata lost her seat in the 1989 general elections, but was re-elected in the Calcutta South constituency in 1991. She retained this seat in the years 1996, 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2009 elections.

In the 1991 government, Banerjee held cabinet portfolios such as Union Minister for Human Resources Development, Youth Affair and sports and Child Development.

A new political chapter: the formation of the Trinamool Congress

Due to differences within the Congress, Mamata Banerjee left the Congress and became one of the founding members of the All India Trinamool Congress with Mukul Roy, which now belonged to the saffron party. The All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) was founded by Mamata Banerjee in 1998 after she quitted from Indian National Congress (INC).

It was not long before the TMC became the main opposition party in the state.

Unlikely as it may sound in today's political climate, Mamata joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre in 1999 and became Railway Minister, presenting its first Rail Budget in 2000.

Mamata left the NDA in 2001 and allied with the Congress in the West Bengal 2001 elections, only to return to the saffron party alliance in 2003. She was entrusted with the charge of the Ministry of Coal and Mines.

TMC's alliance with BJP in 2004 elections turned sour as the latter lost and she became the only TMC member elected to Parliament from the state. In 2009, Mamata was also elected as the Railway Minister for the second time.

Victory of TMC in West Bengal

The movements – the Singur and Nandigram agitation and the image of "Maa Maati Maanush" gained by the TMC helped Mamata to win the 2011 West Bengal elections with the TMC alliance winning 227 seats and the TMC 184 seats. In Bengal politics, this was counted as a historic moment as the Left Front was deposed in the state after being at the helm for 34 years.

In the 2016 general elections, the TMC again won with a landslide two-thirds majority under Mamata's leadership, winning 211 of the total 293 seats. The TMC contested the elections alone and, riding the wave of Mamata's intact popularity, became the first ruling party to win without an ally since 1962 West Bengal.

During her term as the Chief Minister, the Saradha Group financial scandal and Rose Valley came in to light. Some of her cabinet ministers were accused of money laundering. The collapse of a Ponzi scheme that was run by the Rose Valley Group was responsible for the financial scandal.

In 2012, Mamata Banerjee was listed in the ‘100 influential people in the world’ by the Time Magazine. In the same year, the Bloomberg Markets magazine marked her as one of the "50 Most Influential People in the World of Finance".

Mamata Banerjee became the Chief Minister of West Bengal after winning the Legislative Assembly elections in Bengal in 2011. Since then she has been holding the position of CM and ruling Bengal with her determination and feisty nature. She has been true to her roots and led a simple and prudent lifestyle- white cotton sari and rubber sandals being her trademark.