From appearing on the ‘TIME 2012: List of 100 Most Influential People in the World’ to being called a “dangerous, populist demagogue”; no one can surprise us like Mamata Didi. Currently serving as the Chief Minister of West Bengal, she is known for her whimsical and dictatorial ways. 2012 saw her receiving severe flak for several of her antics, but does she really care? Here are Mamata Didi’s top 10 moments in 2012:-
1. India finally polio free!
The year started off with a bang with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee receiving high praise for her polio programme in West Bengal. On 16th February 2012, Bill Gates, of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, sent a letter to Mamata Banerjee and her administration for achieving a full year without any reported cases of polio. India would have been polio-free by 2011, if it was not for a single case reported from West Bengal early last year. But better late than never, they say.
2. Derailed the Railway Minister.
The Indian Railways incurred losses during Mamata Banerjee’s two-year tenure from 2009-2011. As she stepped down to become the Chief Minister, Dinesh Trivedi, from her party, succeeded her as railway minister. In March, Dinesh Trivedi announced the annual rail budget 2012 that included a hike in passenger fares, ranging from 2 -30 paise per kilometre. The proposed fare hike would have added 4200 crores to railways income, thus saving railways from becoming bankrupt. The budget was well received by the general public, industry persons, and all five Rail Unions. However, it was fiercely opposed by Mamata Banerjee, who forced him to resign as Railway Minister on 18th March 2012.
3. The joke’s on you!
In April, Mamata didi’s serious side came to light when see shocked us all by her utter lack of sense of humour. Ambikesh Mahapatra, a professor of Jadavpur University was assaulted, then arrested and forced to spend a night in police custody for allegedly circulating ‘defamatory’ cartoons of Mamata Banerjee. The country erupted in his support, as Mamata Banerjee defended his arrest in public.
4. TIME 2012: Makes it to the list of 100 Most Influential People in the World.
It came as a surprise when Mamata Banerjee made it to the list. To be proud or not was a different issue, but it made one thing clear, she was definitely influential, was making news and the world was taking notice of it.
5. You Maoist!
In May, during a television program broadcasted by CNN-IBN in Kolkata, Mamata Banerjee stormed out of the stage without answering questions from the audience. Taniya Bhardwaj a Presidency University student, along with the entire audience was openly accused of being CPI(M) cadres and Maoists for asking the question during the session.
6. The Presidential race.
In June 2012, Mamata Banerjee, launched a Facebook page to gather support for her party’s choice for the presidential elections- Mr A.P.J Abdul Kalam. It came as a shock to the UPA who had not included him on their list of proposed candidates. Although she didn’t openly reject Pranab Mukerjee’s candidature, she didn’t show any support for him either. After a long drawn public hue and cry, she gave her support to Pranab Mukherjee for the post.
7. Peace restored in Darjeeling.
As the Chief Minister of West Bengal, she made the people happy in July. Peace was restored in the troubled Darjeeling hills with the swearing-in of the Gorkha Territorial Administration. The Darjeeling hills had been in shambles with a series of agitations and bandhs called by the GJM- Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for the past 3.5 years.
8. Goodbye Congress!
Mamata Banerjee and her party the Trinamool Congress (TMC) have always had a love-hate relationship with the UPA. TMC expressed its disappointment on the several reforms proposed by the government like, Direct Cash Transfers, FDI in retail etc. TMC threatened to withdraw support from UPA and gave 72 hours for withdrawing the reforms. When the government paid no heed to her demands, in September, Mamata Banerjee withdrew her support.
9. Jantar Mantar protests.
Taking her disagreement on the reforms a step further, she started an agitation in Jantar Mantar in October. She was protesting against the government for the hike in fuel prices and other decisions taken by them.
10. Why do rapes happen?
In a statement that shocked the nation and attracted severe criticism from the media and general public, Mamata Banerjee attributed the increase in incidents of rape in the country to “more free interaction between men and women“. She said, “Earlier if men and women would hold hands, they would get caught by parents and reprimanded but now everything is so open. It’s like an open market with open options.”
Love her or hate her, one simply cannot ignore her. Mamata didi was therefore the most talked about politician in the year 2012.