As the results of India's West Bengal state's election was announced on Sunday, one name was at the center of all the attention and speculation - Mamata Banerjee. If you are not following the elections closely, the follow up question is who is Mamata Banerjee and why is her story so significant?
Mamata Banerjee, the daughter of Shri Promileswar Banerjee and Smt. Gayetri Banerjee, was born in Kolkata, West Bengal in the year 1955. She is a legislator, bureaucrat, politician and the founder and representative of the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC). Mamata has served as the first female chief minister (head of government) of West Bengal state, India.
Despite her father passing away while she was still very young, she was able to attend school and receive a higher education. It was in school where she picked up the interest in politics and joined the Congress Party in West Bengal and served in various positions within the party and other political organisations.
In 1984, she was first elected to the lower house, Lok Sabha, of the Indian national parliament, as a representative of her home district south Kolkata. Although she lost that seat in 1989 during the parliamentary elections, she regained it in 1991 and held on to that position until 2009.
Banerjee has also held onto several other administrative positions, both within the party and also in the national government.
Over the years, she had gained recognition for her various positions and continued to maintain strong ties with her home state of West Bengal. Her followers have been known to call her Didi, which translates to Elder Sister in English. She often shows her affection and respect to her roots, portraying that she has never forgotten the place where her journey originated from.
Banerjee has also openly spoken about her opinions of communists who have been in power in West Bengal since the year 1977. She saw how corrupted the Congress Party had become and wanted to confront the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) and in 1997, she founded All India Trinamool Congress (AITC).
In 1998 and 1999, the party saw very little success in the national parliamentary elections and lost the seats they had in the 2004 poll.
AITC won 60 seats, after they challenged the CPI (M) in state legislative elections in 2001 but lost half of those in 2006 state elections.
Banerjee aimed to overthrow the communists from power in the 2011 state parliamentary elections and worked on her campaign against land-acquisition scheme and tackled human rights issues and advocated for the protection of women and children.
When 2011 elections rolled around, AITC finally celebrated their much anticipated victory, taking up more than three-fifths of the seat in the state legislature, bringing an end to a three decade communist rule.
Mamata Banerjee was sworn in as chief minister on 20 May 2011.
She has risen to prominence after opposing the land acquisition policy of the Left regime in 2005. One of her most significant acts after she became the chief minister was to return 400 acres of land to Singur farmers.
In the 2016 assembly elections, All India Trinamool Congress won nearly two-thirds of the 293 seats. Mamata Banerjee was then elected as Chief Minister West Bengal for the second term. Her party became the first ruling party to win without an ally in West Bengal since 1962.
Mamata Banerjee, whose party secured a dominant win in the 2021 assembly elections, will take oath as West Bengal chief minister for a third term on May 5.