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Mamata Banerjee, called as ‘Didi’ by her followers celebrates her 65th birthday on 5th January 2020. She is a dire brand leader who has created a unique cult for herself in the Indian politics. She is the founder leader of the Trinamool Congress Party, who has created history in the West Bengal politics by snatching power from the jaws of Left that had been ruling the state for the past three decades. She has been the Chief Minister of West Bengal since 2011, becoming the first woman to hold the office. She has also served as the Railway Minister of India, Minister of Coal and Minister of State for Human Resource Development.

Early Life and Family

Mamata Banerjee was born in a Bengali Brahmin family on 5 January 1955 in Calcutta, West Bengal, India. When she was just 17 years old, her father, Promileswar Banerjee, died due to lack of proper medical treatment. And, she had to suffer huge hardships during her early life.

In academics, Mamata finished her higher secondary education from Deshbandhu Sishu Sikshalaya, Kolkata. She did her graduation from Jogamaya Devi College. She was very interested in pursuing law and received a degree with it from Jogesh Chandra Choudhury College of Law, Calcutta University in 1982. Later, she got her Master’s degree in Islamic History from the University of Calcutta and doctorate from Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Odisha. Her mother died at the age of 81 in 2011.

Political Career

Mamata started her political career with Congress; she became the general secretary of Mahila Congress (I) in 1976. In 1984 Lok Sabha election, she became the youngest parliamentarian even defeating veteran leader, Sommath Chatterjee from Jadavpur parliamentary Constituency in the state. In the 1980s, she also became the general secretary of the Indian Youth Congress. But in 1989, she lost her constituency in the Lok Sabha Election and again in 1991, she won from the Calcutta South constituency and retained her position until 2009.

In 1991, she positioned as the Union Minister of State for Human Resources Development, Youth Affairs, and Sports, and Women and Child Development under the P.V. Narasimha Rao government. That time, she was the first female, who headed all these departments. When she was the Sports Minister, she protested against the government’s indifference towards her proposal to improve in India. Due to the disagreement, in the year 1997, she decided to depart the Indian National Congress and established her party, All Indian Trinamool Congress.

 In 1999, she joined her hands with the National Democratic Alliance and got the position of railway minister under the Vajpayee government. In 2002, she represented her first railway budget in which, she took decision to benefit her state the most.

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 West Bengal government and Tata Company to oppose setting up of Nano car production factory in Singur and the Nandigram violence where the state government tried to get land for a chemical hub forcefully.

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 2009 General Election, she joined the United Progressive Alliance and won her seat in the election and again received the Railway Minister position for her second tenure.

In the 2010 Municipal Elections in West Bengal, Mamata’s party TMC won Kolkata Municipal Corporation by a margin of 62 seats. In the 2011 West Bengal Election, her party came in power and Mamata Banerjee became the first female CM of West Bengal and ended the 34 year rule of Communist Party of India

Poetry and Painting

Apart from her political accomplishments, Mamata wrote prolifically in both English and Bengali. She published over two dozen books, including nonfiction, works like Struggle for Existence (1998), and the Slaughter of Democracy (2006) and a volume of poetry. Moreover, she is an amateur painter; her 300 paintings were sold for Rs 9 crore. One of her paintings named ‘Flower Power’ was auctioned at a gala event in New York City in October 2010. With a base price of $2500, and after 5 bids, it was sold at $3000.

Mamata has remained single throughout her life. She lives a very simple life, she always dresses in a traditional white saree with a cotton bag slung on her shoulder and ‘Hawai chappal’ (sleeper). It is also said, she always does her laundry.

In spite of Narendra Modi’s influence in India, Mamata Banerjee managed to retain her position as the CM of the state. She is one of the country’s toughest women besides her unique style of politics, her struggles and achievements; starting from her days in college politics to defeating the formidable over-three decades-old Left Front government in West Bengal in 2011 made her an amazing lady with extraordinary qualities.  In 2012, Time Magazine placed her in the list of “100 Most Influential People in the World”; in 2012, Bloomberg Markets magazine listed her among the 50 most influential people in the world of finance.

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