May 14, 2011

West Bengal election results: Mamata Banerjee set to become Chief Minister

New Delhi:  Many years ago, a young Congress party worker was spotted for her anti-Left zeal. Mamata Banerjee's raison d'être was to throw out the Left in her state. Today, as she brings "pariborton" or change to West Bengal, Mamata is living her dream. Her Trinamool Congress is headed for a landslide win and Kolkata is set to have a new Chief Minister in Didi.

In her first reaction, Mamata said "We are humbled. We are thankful. This verdict will bring joy to the people of Bengal. At this happy moment, we must remember the martyrs who have been part of this struggle for the last three decades."

Emerging from her home where she had been watching the election results with her mother and sister-in-law, a calm and collected, yet emotional Mamata said it was an unprecedented, historic win. A victory, she said, of "Ma, maati, manush (Mother, motherland, the people)." She dedicated her win to the "people of Tagore's Bengal" on the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore and to the nation. This was, she said, a new day, there was "joy for all, the oppressed, the downtrodden...After 35 years, people have got independence, freedom in Bengal." She ended her short statement to the crowd gathered with "Saare jahaan se achcha Hindustan hamara..."

Flowers and friends fill the Trinamool Congress office. There is green gulal in the air. And indeed in people's hair and on their faces. The slogan, "Let's build a new Bengal" is the call of the moment.

o big is her win that the Trinamool and allies look in position to win well over 200 of the 294 Assembly seats in West Bengal. The huge victory is powered by the Trinamool's stupendous performance and partner Congress will have to factor this in the equation of the two parties even at the Centre.  

The Left is leading in a little over 65 seats - a sea change from five years ago when it had formed government with a big majority. This is a big moment for West Bengal. The Left has ruled continuously for the last 34 years and Mamata fought this election on the plank of "pariborton" and "Ma, maati, manush."

Mamata Banerjee has fought for over two decades to realize her dream of ousting the Left. For years, she battled without being able to do much. Then Singur happened and Mamata would not look back again. She has gone from strength to electoral strength winning local and national elections alike. This is the crowning glory for the woman who left the Congress and set out alone, 13 years ago, and formed the Trinamool Congress to battle the Left Front. 

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