Mamata Banerjee is an Indian politician and the ninth Chief Minister of West Bengal. She is the first woman to hold the office and on 19th May 2016, she became the only women CM to win for two consecutive terms. The thumping victory of the 2016 elections came on the heels of several corruption charges during the end of her tenure as the eighth Chief Minister. In 1997, she dissociated herself from the Indian National Congress party and founded All India Trinamool Congress also known as TMC or AITMC. Popularly called as “Didi”, she created history after the victory in 2011 Legislative Assembly elections of Bengal in which her party was victorious against the 34 year long Left Front government led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) , the longest serving democratically elected communist government in the world. Banerjee also holds the record of being the first woman Railway minister of the country and she has held this position twice. Mamata Banerjee also has held other prominent positions which include Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Minister of Coal, Women and Child Development and Department of Youth Affairs and Sports.
Born on 5th January 1995 in Kolkata, in a lower middle class Bengali family, Mamta Banerjee’s father was Promileshwar Banerjee and her mother was Smt. Gayatri Devi. Banerjee lost her father at a very early age. She graduated in history from Jogomaya Devi College, Kolkata . Later she earned a master’s degree in Islamic history from Calcutta University. She also has a degree in Education and a degree in law from Kolkata’s Shri Shikshayatan College and Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri Law College respectively. She was honoured with DLitt from Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology. Banerjee became involved with politics while still in school. She joined the Congress (I) party in West Bengal and served in a variety of positions within the party and in other local party organizations. While studying at the Jogamaya Devi College she established “Chhatra Parishad Unions” the student’s wing of the Congress (I) party and defeated the Democratic Students Union of the Socialist Unity Centre of India. In 1976, she became the general secretary of the state Mahila Congress and held this post till 1980. She was also the secretary of the District Congress Committee of Calcutta South. In 1984, she was first elected to the Lok Sabha as a representative from her home district in south Kolkata. Banerjee became one of India’s youngest parliamentarians ever beating veteran Communist politician Somnath Chaterjee. She also became the General Secretary of the Indian Youth Congress. She lost that seat in 1989 parliamentary elections but regained it in 1991 and was in the office in each election through 2009. Mamata Banerjee was the Union Minister of State for Human Resources Development, Youth Affairs and Sports in the Rao government of 1991. She was discharged of her portfolios after she protested in a rally at the Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata and announced that she would resign for the government’s indifference towards her proposal to improve sports in the country. In April 1996, she alleged that Congress was behaving as a stooge of CPI (M) in West Bengal and claimed that she was the lone voice of reason and wanted a “clean Congress”. In 1997, she left Congress party and founded the All India Trinamool Congress. The party became the primary opposition to the long standing Communist government in the state but the new party had limited success in the 1998 and 1999 national parliamentary elections but lost nearly all of those seats in the 2004 polls. On 11th December 1997, Mamta Banerjee became controversial when she held a Samajwadi Party M.P. Daroga Prasad Saroj by the collar and dragged him out of the Lok Sabha to prevent him from protesting against the Women’s Reservation Bill. In 1999, she joined the BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and was allocated to the railways ministry. As the Railway Minister, she introduced new trains, made extension of a few express train services, increased frequency of some trains aimed at developing tourism and also proposed the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation. In 2001 at the Tehelka’s exposure of Operation West End, Mamta Banerjee and her party Trinamool Congress party walked out of the NDA cabinet and allied with the Congress Party for the 2001 West Bengal elections. She walked out of the NDA government in protest of the corruption charges levelled by Tehelka.com against senior ministers of the government. She returned to the NDA government in 2004 and held the Coal and Mines portfolio till the General Elections of 2004. In the 2004 elections, she was the only Trinamool Congress member to win a seat in West Bengal. On 20th October 2005, she actively protested against the forceful land acquisition for industrialization in West Bengal by the then Left Government led by Buddhadev Bhattacharya. In December 2006 Banerjee waged a 25 day hunger strike and this issue became the catalyst for the party’s return from near political obscurity and it also lead to an increase in the number of Trinamool supporters in West Bengal. The Trinamool Congress Party had a strong showing in the 2009 general elections and joined the Congress party’s ruling coalition as the second largest faction. She became the Railway Minister for the second time in 2009. During her second term as the Railway Minister, she introduced several non-stop Duronto Express trains that connected major cities, other passenger trains and ladies-special trains during her tenure from 31st May 2009 to 19th July 2011. The alliance of Trinamool Congress party, Indian National Congress and SUCI in the 2011 legislative elections of West Bengal won 227 seats and this resulted in a washout of the Left Front. On 20th May 2011 she became the first woman Chief Minister of West Bengal. The second legislative elections were held in 2016 and Trinamool Congress Party won the election with a landslide two third majority. Mamata Banerjee was elected as Chief Minister of West Bengal for the second term. Out of the 293 seats, TMC won 211 seats, the highest win in West Bengal by any party on its own.
A self taught painter and a poet, Mamata Banerjee remained single throughout her life. Throughout her life she maintained an austere lifestyle, always dressing in simple traditional Bengali sarees called ‘tant” without any cosmetics or jewellery. She always has a cotton bag on her shoulder. In May 2013, Mamata Banerjee was voted as the most honest politician of India by the world’s largest anti-corruption coalition called India against Corruption. She is also credited for taking initiatives to solve the longstanding Gorkhaland problem. Mamata Banerjee has written many books in Bengali as well as English. The Time Magazine in 2012 mentioned her among the 100Most Influential People in the World and in September 2012, The Bloomberg Markets magazine marked her as one of the ‘50 Most Influential People in the World of Finance.’