Mamta Banerjee Biography
Mamata Banerjee born on 5 January 1955 in Kolkata, is the current Chief Minister of West Bengal and the first woman to hold the office. Popularly known as “Didi”, Banerjee is the chairperson of All India Trinamool Congress Party which she founded in 1997 after splitting from the Indian National Congress.
She served as Minister of Coal, Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Department of Youth Affairs and Sports, Department of Women and Child Development and twice as a Minister of Railways in the cabinet of the Indian government. In 2011 Ms.Banerjee pulled off a massive victory for her party in West Bengal by defeating the Communist Party of India (Marxist) led Left Front government, bringing an end to the 34 years of their rule in the state.
Mamata Banerjee grew up in a lower middle class family, and her father Promileswar Banerjee died when she was young. Her mother Gayetri Devi was a school teacher. Mamata Banerjee remained single throughout her life. She graduated with an honours degree in History from the Jogamaya Devi College and earned a master’s degree in Islamic History from the University of Calcutta; also a degree in education from Shri Shikshayatan College and a law degree from the Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri Law College, Kolkata. She has maintained a lucid lifestyle throughout her political life, dressed in simple traditional Bengali cotton sarees called ‘tant’, a cotton bag slung on her shoulder and no cosmetics or jewelry.
Career in Politics
As a young college woman in the 1970s, Mamata Banerjee joined the Congress Party in West Bengal and served in different positions within the party and in other local political organizations. She swiftly climbed the ranks to become the General Secretary of the state Mahila Congress from 1976 to 1980. In the 1984 general elections, Banerjee became one of India’s youngest parliamentarians ever in West Bengal and also became the General Secretary of the All India Youth Congress.
In 1989 Ms.Banerjee lost her seat in an anti-Congress wave but was back in the 1991 general elections and was made the Union Minister of State for Human Resources Development, Youth Affairs and Sports, and Women and Child Development. She retained her seat in the 1996, 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2009 general elections. She parted ways from the Congress Party and established the All India Trinamool Congress in West Bengal in 1997. The Trinamool Congress immediately became the primary opposition party in the state. In the year 1999, she joined the BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and was designated as the Railways Ministry.
In 2000, she presented her first Railway Budget fulfilling many of her promises to her home state West Bengal, introducing a new bi-weekly train and four express trains connecting various parts of West Bengal. She also focused on developing tourism and added two additional locomotives on the Darjeeling-Himalayan section, associated with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited. In total, she introduced 19 new trains during that year.
After the Tehelka expose in 2001, she left the NDA cabinet and joined the Congress Party for West Bengal’s 2001 elections. In January 2004, she returned to the NDA cabinet and held the post of Minister of Coal and Mines till the general election of 20 May 2004. In October 2005, she protested against the forceful land possession and the violence on local farmers in the name of industrial development policy of the Buddhadev Bhattacharya government in West Bengal. She suffered further setbacks in 2005, when her party lost power of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and in 2006, the Trinamool Congress was beaten in the West Bengal’s Assembly Elections losing quite a lot of its members.
Before the parliamentary elections in 2009 she made an alliance with the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by Indian National Congress. 26 seats were won by the alliance and she joined the cabinet as the railway minister which was her second tenure. In 2010’s Municipal Elections in West Bengal, Trinamool Congress won Kolkata Municipal Corporation with a margin of 62 seats. On 20 May 2011, she won in full majority and was sworn in as the Chief Minister of West Bengal and ended the 34 year rule of Communist Party of India.
One of her initial decisions as chief minister was to return 400 acres of land to the farmers that were caught up in the land acquisition dispute. She is also credited to solve the long due “Gorkhaland Issue”. She also started various reforms in education and health sectors and proposes to improve the law and enforcement condition in West Bengal and shows keen interest in making the public aware of the state’s history and culture. On 16th February 2012, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sent a letter praising Mamata Banerjee and her government for achieving a full year without any reported cases of Polio. Recently, she launched a Facebook page to gather public’s support for A.P.J Abdul Kalam, her party’s choice for the upcoming presidential polls.
She has been elected as the chief minister of West Bengal for the second term in the state’s Legislative Assembly election, 2016. Her party won 211 seats out of total 293.