The Chief Minister of West Bengal since 2011, Mamata Banerjee is an Indian politician, previously a member of the Congress and later, founded the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC). The TMC supremo has been elected to Parliament seven times before she contested in the West Bengal Assembly elections. In the state Assembly, she represents the Bhabanipur constituency.
A painter and a poet by interest, Banerjee established herself as a major force in West Bengal in 2011 after ending 34 years of CPI(M) rule in the state. She led her party to victory in 34 of the 42 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and won a second term as CM with a landslide mandate in the 2016 Assembly elections.
Banerjee, popularly called 'Didi', has previously had stints as a Union minister in three central governments during both National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regimes. She was the first woman to serve the railway ministry twice. With her vast experience in politics, Mamata has now emerged as one of the prime challengers to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The CM is involved in politics since the age of 15, starting with student wings of Congress in the 1970s. She rose to prominence after defeating CPM's Somnath Chatterjee in the 1984 General Assembly Elections. The rift between her and the Congress appeared in the 1990s when she alleged Congress of being a stooge to CPI(M) in the state. She co-founded her party in 1997 alongside Mukul Roy and became the primary Opposition.
The 66-year-old politician made headlines in 2005 when TMC actively protested the various land acquisitions, which caused ground-level issues to local farmers in the name of industrial development by the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government. In 2006, she was forcibly stopped on her way to Singur to protest the Tata Motors project, which later made TMC MLAs break furniture in West Bengal Assembly. During the Nandigram protest where 14 villagers were killed, Banerjee wrote letters to then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to stop what she stated as "state-sponsored violence".
In 2011, she became the first female chief minister of West Bengal, with TMC winning 184 seats and ended Communist rule. Immediately after winning elections, she returned the 400-acre land to the farmers of Singur. She also brought various reforms in the education and health sectors. Post her first stint as CM, she came back to the chair after having a landslide victory winning 211 seats out of 293.
As Chief Minister, she also became part of controversies in the state with a few financial scandals. In Saradha chit fund, Rose Valley Scam or Narada, her multiple cabinet ministers were accused of money laundering and then subsequently jailed.
In 2020, the Banerjee government was criticised for handling the coronavirus pandemic and hiding facts around the crisis. The Opposition has accused her of playing "appeasement politics" ahead of the West Bengal Legislative elections.
On March 17, 2020, TMC released the party manifesto promising to generate 500,000 employment opportunities annually and provide free door-to-door ration delivery. Banerjee also guaranteed annual financial assistance for the poor, in which the backward community will receive Rs 12,000 as annual financial assistance. She also promised annual aid of Rs 10,000 per acre to the farmers. In the education sector, she announced a credit card up to Rs 10 lakh for students pursuing higher education.
The chief minister is contesting from Nandigram, in a direct contest with her former aide Suvendu Adhikari who is fighting the Bengal Assembly polls from BJP.