KOLKATA: Mamata Banerjee turned 57 Thursday, marking her first birthday as West Bengal's chief minister, amid signs of a political storm brewing between her Trinamool Congress and ally Congress.
Several party leaders and supporters assembled near her house to wish her. The birthday was an extremely low key affair as Banerjee had lost her mother a few days ago.
Banerjee, who believes in leading a simple life, has never celebrated her birthday with pomp and fare.
"Didi doesn't like to celebrate her birthdays like other leaders. For Mamatadi it is just another day," said Firhad Hakim, the West Bengal urban development minister.
This is her first birthday after single-handedly defeating the 34-year-old mighty Left Front government in the May 2011 election.
This is also the first time Banerjee is spending her birthday in the absence of her mother Gayatri Banerjee, who was a pillar of strength for her. The older woman died of age-related illness last month.
Also, Banerjee has perhaps never before exercised such immense clout in the corridors of power in Delhi as she does now, as a key ally of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in New Delhi.
Banerjee was born to Gayatri and Promileswar Banerjee, a freedom fighter, Jan 5, 1955 in Kolkata.
Banerjee could hardly enjoy her childhood and teenage days as she had to fend for her family after she lost her father at a young age. For a while, she worked in a milk booth as a vendor attendant.
Her baptism in politics came in the 1970s as a stormy petrel of the Congress students wing Chhatra Parishad.
With a postgraduate degree in arts besides degrees in law and education, Banerjee was mentored early on in politics by Subrata Mukherjee, ironically now one of her followers in the Trinamool.
Banerjee, however, remained largely unknown outside of West Bengal until 1984 when she worsted CPI-M stalwart Somnath Chatterjee in Jadavpur in her maiden Lok Sabha contest.
She parted ways with the Congress in 1997 and formed the Trinamool Jan 1, 1998.