Mamata, Uninterrupted

Will the Communist juggernaut grind to a halt in West Bengal this Friday? Pundits believe a little woman with a big personality will stall it. For 30 years, Mamata Banerjee has waged war against the political Goliath and it is only now that change seems to be coming to Bengal. Famously shrill, Didi, always clad in a crumpled cotton sari, is a political livewire who just won't be ignored. Find out what makes her tick.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
A little woman with a big personality has stalled the Communist juggernaut. After 34 years West Bengal has a non-Communist Chief Minister. And a woman Chief Minister to boot.

For over 20 years, the diminutive Mamata Banerjee waged war against the political Goliath and she has brought change to Bengal.

Famously shrill, Didi, always clad in a crumpled cotton sari, is the political livewire who just could not be ignored.

Find out what makes her tick.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
Mamata Banerjee taking oath of office.

This is the first time in 34 years that a non-Left leader has been sworn-in as the chief Minister of the West Bengal. With a 226-strong majority in the house of 294 MLAs, Mamata is in a strong position to implement her ideas for the state and fulfill the promises she made to people during the Assembly Elections.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
Mamata Banerjee accepts the sweets offered by Governor MK Narayanan after taking oath of office as Chief Minister of West Bengal. But the aftertaste of her oath would be much sweeter and long lasting as she has worked hard for over three decades for this day.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
Mamata is the first woman Chief Minister of West Bengal state. Her swearing-in ceremony had over 3,000 guests including Political and Corporate heavyweights. Also present was the outgoing chief minister, CPM's Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, the man Mamata has replaced at the office.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
People of West Bengal have shown a lot of faith in Mamata, bringing her to power with an overwhelming majority. The sea of supporters surrounding her as she arrives at the Writers Building after a swearing-in ceremony is nothing new for Didi but this time it would also remind her of the wight of expectations on her shoulder.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
Mamata, the new Chief Minister of West Bengal sitting in her chamber at the Writers' Buildings.

This served as redemption of a pledge she made 18 years ago - not to enter as long as the Left was in power - after she was allegedly driven out of the building for protesting. Not only is the Left out of Writers' Buildings, but Mamata turned out to be the single most important person behind their removal.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
Born in 1955 in lower middle class Hazra, Kolkata, Mamata has little claim to political heritage of any sort. Growing up at the lower end of the economic spectrum, her tryst with destiny began when her father - a trader and Congress worker - died when she was 17. As her father's daughter, Mamata joined the student wing of the Congress while at college, quickly making her presence felt.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
Political ambition wasn't the only thing on young Mamata's mind. She holds no less than three educational degrees - an M.A in Islamic History, a B.Ed and a law degree, which allows her to add advocate to her resume.

Over the years, she has established herself as a writer of some talent. Upalabdhi, her first book, was published in 1995 and sold well. She is the author of 13 books in total, some of which have been translated into English. She also writes poetry, fiction and political essays.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
Mamata's brand of fiery politicking set her apart from contemporary party workers.

She was first spotted by Bengal Congress bigwigs as a zealous party worker who would assiduously paste anti-Left posters through the night in Kolkata. These would be removed by the Communists in the day. Undaunted, she would go right back to pasting more in the night. Her raison d'etre was to see the decimation of the Left. The word spread.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
Hand-picked by Rajiv Gandhi soon enough, Mamata held political office in the Youth Congress in her 20s.

In the Parliamentary elections of 1984, she felled CPI-M heavyweight Somnath Chatterjee from Kolkata's Jadavpur constituency to become one of India's youngest MPs, aged 29.

At 36, she was Minister for Railways.

There was no stopping the upwardly-mobile Mamata.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
Mamata's political fortunes fell briefly and then rose over the next few years.

She lost her seat in the anti-Congress wave of 1989 but was back in 1991, winning the general elections from Calcutta South, as it was then. She kept her constituency till 2009, each time winning by a larger margin than the last.

Kolkata is Mamata land, as even rueful Congressmen admit.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
By 1998, Mamata had formed her breakaway Trinamool Congress, after a two-year "Clean Congress" campaign in which she alleged her old party was showing signs of becoming a CPI-M stooge in West Bengal.

Under her firebrand leadership, Trinamool proved itself a giant-killer - a successful third force, often second, in Bengal's political hotbed.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
The year 1999 brought with it her brief dalliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

She joined the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition government and began her first innings as Railways Minister. She presented her first Rail Budget in 2000, introducing new trains including a new bi-weekly Rajdhani Express and four connectors to various districts in Bengal.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
Just a year later, the Trinamool-NDA connection derailed. Mamata quit the NDA cabinet to form her grand alliance with the Congress. It was a return of the prodigal, of sorts, but on her own terms.

But the move proved a spectacular failure at election time, with the Buddhadeb Bhattacharya-led Left sweeping the Bengal polls in 2001, 2004 and 2006.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
If Bengal was all but lost to Mamata, the Centre was her new hunting ground.

She briefly returned to the Cabinet in January, 2004, as Minister of Coal and Mines till the General Elections in the same year.

Mamata was the only Trinamool candidate to win a Lok Sabha seat in the elections.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
But she wasn't stranded for long in political wilderness.

The next year, she spearheaded protests by farmers against the creation of a Special Economic Zone that would allow big industry into West Bengal, effectively usurping farmland and livelihoods.

March 14, 2007 brought with it what led to the Left's plummeting fortunes in Bengal. A government-sanctioned siege of Nandigram, one of the two flashpoints of the anti-SEZ protests, left 14 villagers dead and at least 70 others injured.

In the aftermath of this state-sponsored brutality, Nandigram fell to the Mamata-led movement, as did the planned Tata Nano plant in Singur.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
The industrial might of the Tatas proved no match for Didi's tenacious hold on rural Bengal.

In 2006, she headed a rally against the plant-in-making at Singur. She also began a hunger strike after Save Farmland campaigner Tapasi was found burnt to death at the plant site.

The Tatas bowed out of Bengal in 2008.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
Mamata's Ma, Mati, Manush campaign followed in the wake of the Tatas' ignominious exit.

Trinamool swept the Panchayat polls of 2008, the Municipal polls of 2009, and won 19 seats in the Parliamentary elections that year.

For the second time in her career, Didi took her oath as Union Minister for Railways, a post that she gave up before she was sworn in as the chief minister of West Bengal.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
Loved by her party workers, yet feared for her capriciousness, Mamata is an intriguing blend of political astuteness and mercurial disposition.

In a world where a quick fall from grace is only too easy, Mamata chooses to follow her heart rather than her head, and comes to grief for it more often than not.

Paradoxically, that is both her biggest failing and her biggest strength.

Detractors accuse her of being the egocentric pivot of a Mamata-centric party, but her supporters say Bengal needs Didi just as much as she needs Bengal.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
Well known as a firebrand orator, Mamata is equally famous for her habit of clutching people by their collars to make her point.

Amar Singh has been subjected to collar-grabbing, as has fellow Samajwadi Party MP Daroga Prasad Saroj who was dragged out of the Lok Sabha well by the collar to stop him from protesting against the Women's Reservation Bill.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
Drama follows in Didi's wake.

At a Kolkata rally, during her "Clean Congress" campaign, she shaped her shawl into a noose around her neck.

Later, during the Rail Budget of 1997, she threw her shawl at then Railways Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, accusing him of ignoring West Bengal, and threatened to resign from the Lok Sabha.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
Despite her often theatrical behaviour, or perhaps because of it, Mamata is able to forge a connect with the people of Bengal as few have been able to, before or since.

She is always the first politician at the site of a tragedy, even at a sub-local level.

Crowds spill over at her rallies, when more senior leaders sometimes have to address sparsely-attended meetings. Everybody wants to hear what Didi has to say.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
It helps that she has never veered from her austere lifestyle.

She is uniformly dressed in simple cotton sarees, wears no make-up and carries a cotton sling bag.

She continues to live in her modest Kolkata home, the approach road to which is barely wide enough to hold a car.

Mamata has remained single all her life.
Mamata, Uninterrupted
The Trinamool-Congress promised "paribartan" and has ushered a new era in. In no small measure, that agent of change is Mamata Banerjee, a formidable foe and a valuable ally as the Left and the congress would have found out, respectively.

................................ Advertisement ................................

................................ Advertisement ................................