Self-made street fighter: Mamata’s political journey without a mentor

Mamata Banerjee
Imaging: Prathap Ravishankar

Lok Sabha 2019 has witnessed an aggressive Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trying to stay in power for a second term. Even as the Congress has attempted to fight it, the saffron party’s most bitter opponent this time around has been a woman from the east. West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) Chief Mamata Banerjee has matched the BJP’s brick for brick, assault for assault, and attack for attack. With West Bengal turning into a veritable battleground, there is no denying that Mamata, the streetfighter, has given the BJP a fitting fight; not wanting to give up even an inch of her turf.

To understand the mind of this feisty leader, one would have to understand the politics that has shaped her. Her charisma among Bengal’s voters and the strength that she draws from them are hers alone. Once a Youth Congress leader, Mamata metamorphosised into a gladiator with her party, the TMC, eventually toppling 34 years of Left Front rule in the state. She learnt her politics from the CPI(M), playing dirty when it was needed. And some times she has been more Leftist in her views than the Left Front itself, for example, opting to ban land acquisition by the government for industry altogether. And all through this meteoric political journey full of ebbs and flows, Mamata has moved ahead on her own steam. Sure, there were friends, comrades, and well-wishers who were enthralled by the diminutive woman with the enormous idea of defeating the might of the Left Front. But interestingly, there is no one leader who can truly be called Mamata’s mentor.

Many Congress leaders saw her potential

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