With her massive victory on May 19, Mamata Banerjee has proved that she is the biggest brand that Bengal has to offer. There is just no other alternative and it is unlikely there will be any in the near future.
For the bhadrolok fraternity of the state which considers itself as the intellectual heart of the country, Mamata Banerjee doesn't fit the bill.
The unsophisticated leader is the towering of all
Her unsophisticated tongue, too-mundane dressing sense and the footwear which by no means a status-aware bhadrolok will dread to wear at a high-level gathering are things that the Kolkata-based educated, middle-class abhor and hence don't consider the TMC chief a true bearer of the Bengali culture.
The class-conscious Bengali elite doesn't think Mamata fit to be its face
This middle-class, which doesn't believe in caste but makes it up more by the conviction about class, admires the Rabindranath Tagores and Satyajit Rays in fields of creativity and the white dhoti-clad politicians with black-framed glasses as their true identity. Hence, when Mamata Banerjee becomes the biggest leader of their province and heads the administration, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
But Banerjee's strength lies elsewhere
But Banerjee's strength lies elsewhere and to gauge that, one has to take a look at her rise from the bottom. Though a Brahmin, her socio-economic class was never similar to her predecessors like Jyoti Basu and Siddhartha Shankar Ray or even Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee but yet, she has proved that she is a real mass leader that Bengal has produced and she eclipses everybody else while marching on her path to glory. [2016 verdict has a cautionary tale for Mamata, Jayalalithaa]
2016 is the highest point in Mamata's political journey
The 2016 win marks the highest point in the political journey of Banerjee. Throughout her life, she was fought several challenges---be it as an Opposition leader or an administrator. In this election, the TMC supremo had threats---both external and internal. The Left and Congress came together against her; the BJP also posed a threat to her vote-bank; a section of the media launched a campaign against her and even the Election Commission showed its ruthless face this time.
Mamata won in 211 seats: A super achievement
Internally, too, the series of corruption charges against a number of top leaders of her party and the rise of the ugly hood of the syndicate put the supremo under a big pressure---so much so----that she was even seen pleading the voters not to abandon her. She also said that she is the candidate for all 294 seats in the Assembly.
The Opposition ridiculed her for this but on May 19, it was seen that all barring 83 constituencies chose her as the candidate. Even Bengal's two other prolific chief ministers---Bidhan Chandra Roy and Jyoti Basu---didn't ever had to bear the responsibility of their entire parties and yet win it so big. Her image of honesty is still something that people can identify themselves with.
Banerjee did it in style.
It was never an easy task for Banerjee to accomplish this feat. Whether her government did enough work for the common people is also debatable, but one thing is beyond doubt and that is Banerjee's rock-solid political stand, which is opposition to the Left.
Mamata has sealed the fates of the Left and Congress in this election
This is precisely where she has sealed the fates of the Left and Congress in this election. Being Bengal's only reliable face against the regimented rule of the Left for over three decades, Banerjee had to undergo serious consequences. She was manhandled and beaten up for resisting a powerful Left, sometimes even digesting life-threatening blows but she never gave up.
Mamata never compromised in her fight against Left; the Congress did it this time and sank
Her own party at that time, the Congress, did not always support her during the struggle even though she became close to late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Banerjee often said that the Congress had people who worked closely with the Left and after Rajiv's death in 1991, she remained in that party for less than seven years. In 1998, she floated her own TMC to take ahead her indomitable fight with the Left and in no time, emerged as the second-best party in the Assembly after the Left.
Mamata still remembers the death of Congressmen in police firing
It is not unexpected of Banerjee that she still arranges for a memorial for some Congress youths who were killed in police firing on July 21, 1993, despite the fact that she leads a different party today. Even the Congress never felt to commemorate its own martyrs the way Banerjee did over the years.
There lies people's conviction about Banerjee.
2011-16 was never a smooth journey for administrator Mamata but the moment the Opposition tied up, she sensed her chance
As an administrator of a one-individual government, it was never a smooth sailing for Banerjee between 2011-16. There were several reasons for the Opposition to target her government as she failed to revive the economy through means of industralisation and employment generation---the two biggest demands for the urban educated class; but the moment the Left and Congress tied up in public against her, Banerjee knew it was the biggest-ever opportunity for her. The Narada footage issue created some nervous energy but ultimately, Banerjee had the last laugh.
People mocked Mamata after she lost 1989 election; till date, that's her only defeat
In 1989, after many had mocked Banerjee after she lost the general election that year, she had said that the loss made her stronger for the future battles. Till date, that's the only electoral loss Mamata Banerjee has faced in her long political career.
Misleading elite media only projected her weaknesses, but never her strengths
Insiders said Banerjee started this year's campaign with an aim of 200 seats. For many, this would have generated some funny reaction but Banerjee knew her strengths and weaknesses. The misleading media only highlighted the weaknesses but people saw the strengths.
Mamata Banerjee is a phenomenon that the educated middle-class fails to recognise. Many call her a "third-grade woman" but she is the woman who represents Bengal before the world today.