2016 saw Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee's focus shift to Delhi

Mamata Banerjee emerged as the top newsmaker of 2016 in West Bengal leading Trinamool Congress to a thumping victory in the assembly polls.

Published: 17th December 2016 10:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th December 2016 11:36 AM   |  A+A-

Indian farmers and activists celebrate as Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee delivers new ownership documents to farmers who had previously owned land in the area during a function | AFP


KOLKATA: Mamata Banerjee emerged as the top newsmaker of 2016 in West Bengal leading Trinamool Congress to a thumping victory in the assembly polls and later on positioning herself in the forefront of the anti-Modi crusade on the demonetisation issue.

The state government also scored a major victory in the Supreme Court which termed as "illegal and void" the acquisition of land in Singur by the previous Left Front regime for Tata Motors' Nano car project by ordering restoration of the land to the farmers.

Banerjee described the apex court ruling as a "landmark victory" for her party. The year also witnessed the collapse of the under- construction Vivekananda road flyover in which over 20 people lost their lives.

The incident led to political mudslinging with TMC chief putting the blame on the previous LF government.

The state also saw a slugfest between TMC and the foe- turned-friend Congress and the CPI(M)-led Left Front during the assembly poll. Raising Narada sting operation and Saradha scam issues, the Congress-Left combine tried to put up a tough fight but TMC had managed to capture 211 seats in the 294-member assembly.

The BJP played a spoilsport for the Congress and Left alliance, which ended up with a meagre 76 seats. The BJP opened its account by wining three seats.

Maintaining its winning spree, TMC also recorded victories in the by-election to two Lok Sabha and one assembly seat in the state. Having the main Opposition parties decimated in Bengal, Banerjee chose to play a bigger role in national politics ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing the decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on November 8, Banerjee was the first to go all out against the decision terming it "anti-people" and "financial emergency" in the country.

Political observers say the demonetisation issue gave Banerjee a much-awaited opportunity to try her luck in playing a major role in national politics with a view on the 2019 elections.

To build a nationwide movement against BJP, Banerjee gave a call of putting up a united fight against the saffron party at the Centre and even managed to enlist the support of Shiv Sena, an NDA partner which had marched to Rashtrapati Bhavan along with TMC to protest against demonetisation.

In her effort, she kept aside her political differences and even spoke to CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

The TMC supremo did not waste a single chance of taking on Modi head-on and made the deployment of army personnel at toll plazas in the state a major issue dubbing it as a 'coup' attempt on the part of the Centre although the army described it a routine operation.

Ridiculing her attempt of playing a major role in national politics, the BJP said her ambition will never get fulfilled as the people have supported the decision of demonetisation.

The year also witnessed some newly-elected MLAs of both Congress and the Left deserting their respective parties and joining TMC. They included former state Congress president Manas Bhunia.

Eminent author and social activist Mahasweta Devi, whose writings focused on the marginalised communities in the country and served as the voice of the oppressed, died at the age of 91 after a multi-organ failure. Forward Bloc veteran Ashok Ghose also passed away during the year at the age of 93.


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