In 2011 Mamata Banerjee was elected as the Chief Minister of West Bengal. The win was unforgettable as her party won 184 seats with INC winning 42 seats and SUCI managed to bag one seat. It marked the longest-ruling democratically elected Communist party in the world.
Mamata Banerjee is the first female chief minister of West Bengal. 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 Indian government. She is also the first Minister of Railways, who served twice.
She joined politics in the 1970s as a young woman who managed to seek attention in the press media when she protested against a social activist and politician Jayaprakash Narayan. She also became the general secretary of the Indian Youth Congress in 1984.
She resigned as the sports minister and protested in a rally at the Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata as the government had an indifferent attitude towards her proposal to improve sports in the country. In 1996, she alleged that Congress was behaving as a stooge of the CPI-M in West Bengal.
In 1997, she left Congress party after having a clash of opinion with West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Somendra Nath Mitra. She founded the All India Trinamool Congress with Mukul Roy. Soon, they became primary opposition to the Communist Government in the state.
In 1999, she became the Minister of Railways. She joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in 1999. It was in the year 2000, she presented her first Railway Budget. The budget was promising as she introduced the New Delhi- Sealdah Rajdhani Express train and four express trains connecting various parts of West Bengal. She extended three express train services and added fuel to the speed of work on the Digha-Howrah Express service. She is a lady with a broad mindset. She didn’t confineto train services but also focused on developing tourism, due to which Darjeeling Himalayan Railway section obtained two additional locomotives and proposed the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited.
In early 2001, she left the NDA cabinet and allied with the Congress Party for West Bengal’s 2001 elections. She aimed at protesting the corruption charges levelled by the website against senior ministers of the government. She joined NDA in September 2003 as a cabinet minister.
In 2004, her party aligned with Bhartiya Janata Party for Indian General Election 2004. The alliance didn’t manage to win but Mamata Banerjee made it. She became the only Trinamool Congress member to get elected from a parliamentary seat from West Bengal.
Singur, Nandigram and other movements
Mamata Banerjee is also known as Didi by her followers. She is a lady with a strong voice and never tolerated the wrong. In October 2005, she protested against the forceful land acquisition and the atrocities committed against farmers. It was under the shield of the industrial development policy of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government, they wronged the farmers. The primary reason behind the initiation of protests is the transfer of rights of farmland in Howrah to Benny Santoso, CEO of the Indonesia-based Salim Group. He promised heavy investment in West Bengal. She and her followers stood in front of the Taj Hotel where Santoso had arrived and later followed his convoy. A planned “black flag” protest was avoided.
In November 2006, she was stopped on her way to Singur for a rally against a proposed Tata Motors car project. She managed to reach the West Bengal assembly and protested at the venue. The Trinamool Congress MLAs protested by damaging furniture and microphones in the West Bengal Assembly and Banerjee announced a 12-hour shutdown on Friday. The strike was called on 14th December 2006.
This is an incident that occurred in Nandigram, West Bengal in 2007. It was a violent incident that aimed at rescinding protests against the West Bengal government’s plan to expropriate 10,000 acres of land for a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to be developed by Salim Group. The battalion police stormed the rural area in the district of Purba Medinipur where 14 villagers were shot dead and 70 were injured. This sparked the mind of intellectuals as well. Didi played a revolutionary role in the incident as she wrote letters to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to stop “state-sponsored violence”. She made a commendable contribution to the incident and managed to win in 2011.
Trinamool Congress performed exceptionally well in the 2009 parliamentary election and bagged 19 seats. Its allies in SUCI and congress also displayed a good performance. SUCI managed to one seat while Congress got 6 seats. It was considered the best performance by any opposition party in West Bengal since the beginning of the Left’s regime.
Railway Minister (second tenure)
Didi has a commendable political career. Before getting elected as Chief Minister of West Bengal in 2011, she was elected as the Minister of Railways again. During her tenure, she introduced several non-stop Duronto Express trains connecting large cities. She also introduced women-only trains. Her plans and her words are equivocally strong. She gave up the post to become Chief Minister with these words- “The way I am leaving the railways behind, it will run well. Don’t worry, my successor will get my support”. Dinesh Trivedi, from her party, succeeded her as a railway minister.
Chief Minister of West Bengal- Mamata Banerjee
In 2011, the All India Trinamool Congress won the West Bengal legislative assembly election along with SUCI and the INC against the Left alliance by capturing 227 seats. On the prosperous day of 20th May 2011, Mamata Banerjee was elected as the Chief Minister of West Bengal. She is the first female Chief Minister of West Bengal. After becoming the chief minister, her first appreciable act was to return 400 acres of land to Singur farmers. She said- “I have instructed the department to prepare the papers for this. If Tata-babu wants, he can set up his factory on the remaining 600 acres, otherwise we will see how to go about it”.
She also established Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. She worked day and night to develop her state. She began reforms in the education and health sectors. The very first reform in the education sector was releasing of salary of teachers on the first of the month and quicker pensions for retiring members.
In health sector plan was a bit longer. She started with opening a Defecation free district in the country. This happened on 30th April 2015. In October 2012, she touched on the issue of augmenting rape cases in the country. She attributed it to the more interaction between men and women. She said- “Earlier if men and women would hold hands, they would get caught by parents and reprimanded but now everything is so open. It is like an open market with open options”.
She is a big fan of culture and wants others to get apprised with it. For those purposes, she named several stations of Kolkata Metro after freedom fighters and plans on naming upcoming stations after religious poets, singers, leaders and more.
Another milestone- On 16th February 2012, she received a letter from Bill gates, of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, appreciating Mamata Banerjee and her administration for achieving a full year without any reported cases of polio.
Her second tenure started in 2016. In the 2016 assembly elections, the All India Trinamool Congress won with a two-thirds majority under Banerjee. They got 211 seats out of 293. All India Trinamool Congress became the first ruling party in West Bengal to win without an ally since 1962.
Banerjee identifies herself as Hindu and is a self-taught painter. She sold 300 paintings for Rs. 9 crores. A movie named Baghini was released on 24th May 2019 in her biography. In 2012, Tie magazine had her name in the list of 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2018, she has conferred the Skoch Chief Minister of the Year Award. Currently, she is serving as the 8th Chief Minister of West Bengal and never forgets to raise her voice in relevant matters.