In December 1992, Mamata Banerjee, who was then a junior minister in Narsimha Rao government was humiliated, dragged by her hair and then thrown out of the Writers’ Buildings. She had gone to meet the then chief minister Jyoti Basu to seek justice for a deaf and mute girl Deepali Basak who was raped allegedly by a CPI(M) cadre in a Nadia village.
When Basu refused to meet her, Ms Banerjee sat on a dharna outside his chamber. It was then that she was physically removed from the state secretariat. Ms Banerjee had then taken a pledge that she would not set foot in the Writers’ Buildings till she became chief minister of West Bengal. She has so far kept her pledge. She has not gone anywhere near the state secretariat in the past 19 years. She is now all set to keep the other part of her promise: storm into the seat of power in Bengal at the historic red edifice as the occupant of the chief minister’s office.
In the past two decades, Ms Banerjee had been on a rollercoaster ride. She broke away from the Congress and floated her own Trinamul Congress in 1998. She joined hands with the BJP and her party won first eight (1998 ) and then nine (1999 ) Lok Sabha seats. Trinamul Congress became a trusted coalition partner in NDA led by Atal Behari Vajpayee with Ms Banerjee taking charge of the railways. Her heart, however, was in Bengal.
In 2001, she dumped the BJP and entered into an alliance with Congress to contest the Assembly polls in Bengal. By carrying on a highly belligerent anti-Left poll campaign, she created a wave giving a fright to the ruling CPI(M). So confident was she of her victory that a day before the announcement of results, she told reporters that she would meet them next at the Writers Buildings. The results crushed her hopes: the Left Front won a comfortable majority with 199. Without wasting time, she returned to the NDA. In 2004 Lok Sabha polls, when the people voted for a Congress-led UPA, her party suffered heavy drubbing. Barring Ms Banerjee, all eight sitting Trinamul Congress MPs lost.
In 2006 Assembly polls, Left Front won 235 seats decimating Trinamul Congress by reducing it to only 30 seats.
When she was facing political oblivion, Singur happened. She cashed in on the farmers’ resentment over forcible acquisition of land for Tata Motors’ Nano project. Through sustained agitation, she mobilised enormous public support. Nandigram firing in which 14 villagers were killed came as a further impetus.
Like a proverbial phoenix, Ms Banerjee rose from her ashes. She went from strength to strength. In 2008, Trinamul Congress won panchayat polls. In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, she again joined hands with the Congress and brought down the Left Front tally from 35 to 15. In 2010, she wrested the prestigious Kolkata Municipal Corporation and large number of municipalities from Left Front. Asian Age