She would sit with the poor womenfolk in the remote suburbs of Kolkata for hours, enjoying muri (puffed rice) and alu bhaja (fried potatoes) in their courtyards and listen to their stories of laughter and sorrow throughout many afternoons and evenings. She would rush to help the needy and the grief-stricken even at the dead of the night with whatever she could. She would walk for miles with the masses to protest against the atrocities and high-handedness of the then administration. A firebrand politician, who lives an austere life in a humble dwelling in South Kolkata beside a putrid canal, works relentlessly even today to establish the Bengal of her dreams. Her fashion statement is a simple cotton sari and a pair of rubber sandals. A born fighter, she also paints, writes, recites and sings Rabindra Sangeet, all of it without the pretensions of any pseudo-cultural refinement. From when she was brutally attacked by Lalu Alam, a CPM hooligan, in 1991 that resulted in a massive fracture on her head; to becoming the Chief Minister of Bengal — it took almost 20 years of sheer hard work and unflinching determination to not give up and continue her struggle. This woman, Mamata Banerjee, fought not only the CPM and marked an end to its 34-year-old agonising rule in the state but also faced severe apathy from Bengal's unkind and judgemental educated middle class. However, she managed to spearhead this poribartan (change)! Today, her popularity is at an all-time high.
And now, when she has embarked on a journey to bring about another poribartan, this time at the Centre, she is committed to replace the saffron bastions with a new alternative — a tinge of green. This green would stand for hope and resurgence of a new India, free from the clutches of communal outrage, agrarian agony, unprecedented violence, corruption, economic distress, unemployment and several other vagaries of political impunity. And the leader is once again the torch bearer of change from Bengal — Mamata Banerjee. With just the last phase of polls remaining, the nation awaits what would perhaps go down in history as one of the most dramatic, adventurous and historic election results on May 23. While her opponents campaign in helicopters and stylish open-roof SUVs, she relies on her incredible ability to walk for miles and connect with her people. After all, her connection with the streets of this state, especially Kolkata, is indeed very deep and profound. It is from these streets that she has risen to such heights and it is the men and women of these streets who make her the leader she is. An icon of change in Bengal, she is all set to reverse the fortunes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre, bringing the rallying cry of poribartan to a full circle.