Mamata Banerjee has proved multiple times now that she does not deal in ambiguous results. Certainly not in West Bengal assembly elections. By Sunday night, her Trinamool Congress (TMC) had registered another emphatic victory in the state, which Mamata snatched 10 years ago from the Left and then retained with more seats in 2016.
Exit polls predicted a close match two days ago between Mamata and the BJP. Mamata Banerjee has gone on to win even more seats than five years ago. Two more. The TMC has won or is leading in 213 of the state’s 292 seats that went to polls. The BJP is way behind at 77.
Mamata lost own election in Nandigram to former protege Suvendu Adhikari, who joined the BJP and contested against his ex-boss. “Don't worry about Nandigram, I struggled for Nandigram because I fought a movement. It's ok. Let the Nandigram people give whatever verdict they want, I accept that. I don't mind. We won more than 221 seats & BJP has lost the election,” the West Bengal Chief Minister said.
With today’s win she has denied the BJP what it wanted keenly. West Bengal added to its list of conquests. It will have to wait some more.
“Khela Hobe (game on),” Mamata had said as defections like Adhikari’s piled up around her with many key TMC leaders joining the BJP in the run-up to the elections. “Khela Shesh (game over for Mamata) countered the BJP, but those calculations were wrong.
"The TMC won because of Mamata Banerjee. It seems people have chosen Didi. We will introspect what went wrong, whether it was organisational issues, lack of face, insider- outsider debate. We will see what went wrong," said the BJP’s national general secretary in charge of Bengal, Kailash Vijayvargiya on Sunday afternoon.
Battling a deep anti-incumbency sentiment and an aggressive BJP’s full-on assault, Mamata Banerjee projected herself as a lone woman taking on the big guns of the BJP. Didi to many for years, she repackaged herself as Bengal’s daughter or “beti,” and rallied women voters and the state’s substantial Muslim vote base.
The diminutive Mamata, 66, hobbled through an intense election, one leg in a cast after an injury that also saw her campaign in a wheelchair. She matched a barrage of taunts and invectives from an army of BJP leaders assigned to Mission Bengal, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, chief architect of the BJP’s growth-on-steroids in the state.
The BJP said she was faking it. The TMC accused the BJP of misogyny. Mamata was injured while campaigning in Nandigram in March. It wasn’t her first workplace injury. In 1990, she was attacked during a rally and her skull was fractured.
Mamata Banerjee is an effective solo act. She has always been.
As a young Congresswoman obsessed with ending Communist rule in Bengal, she was quickly spotted for her passion in removing or defacing political posters of the CPI(M) in Kolkata. She first registered herself as a giant killer when at age 29 she defeated Left colossus Somnath Chatterjee in the 1984 general election. It was the only election Chatterjee ever lost.
Marxists called her “that girl” as she made it her mission to trip them up, attack their image and generally make trouble for them. She was dismayed at the lack of energy displayed by other Congress leaders through years and years of Left rule.
Mamata was 42 when she launched the Trinamool Congress in 1997. She had been expelled by the Congress for accusing it of playing B team to the Left and of not being serious about uprooting the Left.
The Nandigram movement when she protested for farmers’ rights and against the land acquisition policy of the then Left government, set her on the path to 2011, when she stormed Bengal and threw out the Left, becoming chief minister for the first time.