Mamata Banerjee is a politician and founder of All India Trinamool Congress (TMC). She is the 8th Chief Minister of West Bengal, and the first woman to hold the office. She founded Trinamool Congress in 1998 and became its Chairperson, after separating from the Indian National Congress. She has also served as Minister of Railways, twice- being the first woman to do so, apart from being the first woman to hold portfolios in the Ministries; of Coal, Human Resource Development, Youth Affairs, Sports, Women and Child Development; in the cabinet of the Indian government.
She first got elected as Chief Minister in 2011, after TMC, Congress and Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) won the West Bengal assembly elections against the Left Alliance. She served a subsequent term, leading TMC to win a landslide two-thirds majority with 211 seats out of 295. Trinamool Congress also became the first ruling party to win without an alliance in West Bengal, since 1962.
Here are some of her achievements as Bengal’s Chief Minister.
I. Kanyashree Prakalpa
The Kanyashree Prakalpa was established by the West Bengal government under Mamata Banerjee, with the aim of improving the life and status of girls in the state. The scheme would help economically backward families with cash, so families would not have to arrange for the marriage of their girl child before the age of eighteen due to economic problems. The scheme also aims at uplifting girls from poor economic backgrounds, who can’t pursue higher education as a result of being in a tough economic situation.
The scheme has two components. An annual scholarship of Rs. 750 is provided for unmarried girls between classes 8 and 11 in government recognised or equivalent open school or vocational/technical training courses. The other component is the one time grant of Rs. 25,000 that is provided. Both components of the scheme are granted to girls whose families’ income is less than that of Rs. 1.2 lakhs.
II. Yuvashree (Yuva Utsaha Prakalpa)
The Yuvashree scheme, of Yuva Utsaha Prakalpa as it was previously known, is a program launched by the West Bengal government under Mamata Banerjee to provide financial assistance to jobseekers enrolled in ‘Employment Bank‘ to enable them to enhance their employability by undergoing some education or training with the period of assistance.
Employment bank is state-owned job portal which is an e-governance initiative of the Labour Department in the West Bengal state government, to widen the window of job opportunities for job seekers in the state.
III. Sabooj Sathi
The Sabooj Sathi Bicycle Distribution Scheme or Sabooj Sathi, is a scheme launched in September 2015 by the West Bengal government for the distribution of bicycles to about forty lakh students of classes 9 and 11 studying in government run-and-aided schools and madrasas.
The West Bengal SC/ST Development & Finance Corporation was declared the nodal agency for procurement and distribution of bicycles.
IV. Fair Price Medicine Shops
Under Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the West Bengal government introduced ‘Fair Price Medicine Shops‘ all across the state in 2012. The aim of the initiative is to provide generic medicines, surgical and dressing material, as well as cardiac devices at almost 50% (Or more) less than the maximum retail prices.
The Fair Price Shops are a public-private initiative by the government of India and private businesses.
This scheme was also aimed at providing Rs. 2.5 lakhs for each store to unemployed youth, preferably those with pharmacy licenses.
V. Khadya Sathi Scheme
The West Bengal state government under Mamata Banerjee launched the Khadya Sathi Scheme in January 2016. Khadya Sathi is food security scheme that that was launched with the aim of providing a kilo of rice at Rs. 2, to 7.5 crore people across the state.
While launching the scheme, the Chief Minister said that 7.5 crore people could get five kilograms of rice and wheat, every month at Rs. 2 per kilo. She said that the scheme would benefit nearly 82% of the total population of the state.
VI. Extension of Kolkata Metro
The Kolkata Metro is India’s first metro railway in India, opening for commercial services in 1984 under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and the then Chief Minister of state, Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy. The network consists of one operational line between Noapara and Kavi Subhash, which covers a distance of 27.22 kilometres.
In 2010, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee laid the foundation stone for the Kolkata Metro extension project, proposed at Rs.600 crores for the north-south fringes of the city. The Railway Ministry also announced the construction of five new metro lines, to be constructed in two phases, apart from the extension of the existing north-south corridor.
VII. Kisan Mandis
In 2013, the West Bengal government under Mamata Banerjee announced the setting up of 341 special markets for farmers called ‘Kisan Mandi‘- to help them sell their produce at the right price.
About 50 warehouses for storing seeds were also part of the proposal. The government would also provide Rs. 75 crores to farmers for purchasing agricultural machinery and equipment.
VIII. Nirmal Bangla
The West Bengal government under Mamata Banerjee launched the Nirmal Bangla Mission, which is seen as an offshoot of the centre’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, to bring all existing sanitation projects under one scheme.
On 30th April 2015, Nadia district became the first in the country to earn an Open Defecation Free (ODF) status. About 3,47,000 toilets were constructed in the district, in less than 18 months. The plan was carried out by the district administration of Nadia in collaboration with UNICEF.
IX. Success in 100-Days Work Scheme (MGNREGA)
The West Bengal government, during the financial year 2016-2017, set a record in the 100-Days work scheme under the MGNREGA, by creating a 33% increase in man-days. This was seen as the highest increase in the country.
An estimate of almost 24 crore man-days were achieved during the year. The State broke another record in terms of the number of women employed in the scheme. According to official sources, in the financial year 2016-2017, 46.46% of the workforce in Bengal comprised of women.
Mamata Banerjee’s reign in West Bengal has seen a host of developments in the state, first with her claim to restoring peace in Jangalmahal with the ousting of extreme Left Wing militants.
She is largely credited with the empowerment of women in the state, along with the beautification of Kolkata. She was named in the Forbes’ list of ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’ and also in Bloomberg Market’s list of ’50 Most Influential People in the World of Finance’.