West Bengal firmly under belt, Mamata eyes Delhi centre stage

As she led thousands of hungry, half-clad and angry farmers on the dusty streets of Singur and Nandigram over a decade ago, defying the mighty Communist regime of West Bengal, little did she know she was on the threshold of scripting history.

Mamata Banerjee, the tempestuous Trinamool Congress supremo, might well be at the doorstep of making history yet again, if the BJP-led NDA fails to secure a majority in the Lok Sabha polls, ending up becoming a kingmaker in national politics if not the king.

One of the bitterest critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, she firmly pitched herself as a leader who could act as the glue to unite disparate political parties seeking to oust the NDA from power when she mustered leaders of 23 parties at rally in January.

"We would play an important role in the new government formation under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee. The people of this country are looking up to her and TMC to save them from the reign of fear of Narendra Modi," TMC leader in the outgoing Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay told, indicating that the fiery West Bengal leader has set her sights on New Delhi.

For the 64-year-old spinster, the political journey from the restive streets of Nandigram and Singur in 2007-08, when she waged a relentless battle against the Left Front government, to 'Nabanna', the seat of power in Kolkata, was as captivating as it was punishing.

Though she cut her political teeth as a young Congress volunteer in her student days and rose to become a minister in UPA and NDA governments, it was in the crucible of Nandigram and Singur movements against forcible acquisition of farm land by the Communist government for industrialisation that her destiny and that of the TMC took shape.