Why Mamta Banerjee's politics are so brutal

How Mamata Banerjee defeated India's Premier Modi amid the pandemic

The head-to-head race that was conjured up was ultimately not one: The Trinamool Party (TMC) under Mamata Banerjee won the election in the Indian state of West Bengal against the BJP of incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi by a clear margin. Banerjee's success story continues: in 2011 she came to power with her TMC party in Kolkata and replaced the communists who had ruled for 34 years. Ten years later, a clear majority in West Bengal again spoke out in favor of Banerjee's term in office. The 66-year-old is currently the only incumbent head of government ("Chief Minister") of a state or union territory in all of India.

The nationwide elections in May 2019 were probably a wake-up call for Banerjee: Modi's BJP was able to win massive votes (around 40 percent) for the first time in West Bengal, one of the last bastions critical of Hindu nationalism, in which a third of the population is Muslim. In the current election campaign, the BJP once again raised the mood against Muslims and promised to expel hundreds of thousands who fled Bangladesh to India decades ago.

Banerjee, who repeatedly criticized Modi, refused to implement the new citizenship law in 2020, which explicitly discriminates against Muslims.

Flexible alliances

She is often described in the English-speaking media as a rebel, impulsive, or hot-headed. In doing so, it simply does not shy away from political conflicts, no matter how powerful the opponent seems. Mostly she has her own advantage in mind: after the rift with the Congress party, in which she had made a career in the 1980s and 1990s and rose to state secretary, for example, she founded her own party TMC. First it allied itself with the BJP, in 2001 with the Congress Party, in 2004 with the BJP and again in 2009 with the Congress Party - depending on which alliance seemed the most promising.

There are also allegations of corruption and the persecution of political opponents against them and the TMC. In the current election, she was able to score with specific measures, such as support for students, especially for young women. Modi's weakness, who is blamed for failure in the corona pandemic, also helped her. Now there is even speculation that Banerjee will challenge the prime minister in the 2024 parliamentary elections. (Noura Maan, May 3, 2021)