The exit polls of Lok Sabha elections 2014 seemed to be favourable towards Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, as were the actual results. Although, exit polls projected that the West Bengal chief minister's party is likely to win 27 out of 42 seats, the results went past these expectations and got them a total of 34 seats (party with fourth largest seats). This stronghold was supposed to give them the last laugh these elections, considering Trinamool Congress will be winning highest share of seats among the non-UPA/NDA parties and they would need their help to form Majority. This gave her the confidence to sail past the hurdles that came her way, and there were a lot of them.
Mamata Banerjee, leader of the All India Trinamool Congress Party (AITMC), affectionately known as "didi", is currently the 11th chief minister of West Bengal. She holds the title of being the first woman to hold the post of Union Minister of Railways (2004).
However, this year's election were not without its troubles for the TMC chief. Her spat with the Election Commission, tops the list of her troubles during the elections. When the EC ordered the transfer of seven top officials in the state government refraining them from election duties. She went on an open war by questioning the EC's authority and threatening to resign if needed. "How can the EC transfer and name new officers without consulting the state government?" asked Banerjee. "You will only listen to the Congress...to make the Congress win, BJP win. You will have to take my resignation. I will not remove a single officer, not while I am chief minister. Do what you like." Her bold statements spread like fire amongst the heated elections news.
Narendra Modi made a personal remark against Mamata, he wanted to know was name of the person who bought her 1.8 crore painting. She retorted back with a strong statement, calling Narendra Modi the 'Butcher of Gujarat' in reference to the 2002 Gujarat riots, started a verbal war. Things simply got worse when TMC national spokesperson Derek O'Brien wrote on the party website, “The butcher of Gujarat could not take care of his own wife. How will he take care of this great nation?” This created unpleasant ripples amongst the political circles. This clearly meant that if the question of an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party came, there would be some serious issues to be resolved and put behind.
Her involvement in the Saradha Scam, made the top guns of the Congress and BJP point fingers at her party. The Mamata Banerjee run government is criticised to be the 'symbol' of Saradha Group which defrauded lakhs of small investors. However, she hit back from this multi crore scam by blaming the UPA led centre government for allowing chit funds to operate.
Similarly Jayalalitha, president of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), ruling party of Tamil Nadu, emerged as a confident winner as per the expectations of the exit polls. Just like Mamata, the results on May 16, went past her expectations as she won 37 seats, the third highest share of seats among the non-UPA/NDA parties just a few less than the Congress, the ruling national party. This too, boosted her confidence, ensuring that she would have the upper hand in choosing her alliance to dominate the central government.
However, she has had a bitter history with the BJP where alliances are concerned. During the Vajpayee government in 1999, she walked out on the alliance to form the centre. This led to the downfall of the Vajpayee government. However, Narendra Modi and Jayalalitha have been seen to be on good terms, as both have often cordially visited each others occasions. Yet there seemed to be no word out on a possible BJP-AIADMK alliance. This would allow her to avoid alienating the Muslim vote bank.
Just like Mamata, her journey has not been an easy one either. Jayalalithaa has faced charges of accumulating over Rs 66 crore worth of assets disproportionate to her known sources of income from 1991 to 1996. The trial which was going on before a court in Bangalore, were continued as Supreme Court on May 13 declined to entertain a plea seeking its deferment. This was also held against her.
While both Jayalalitha and Mamata have had their share of dramatic episodes these elections, they have both emerged powerful winners. However, they no longer hold the cards of fate for Narendra Modi's Prime Minister future. Bharatiya Janata Party alone winning 285 seats has very much formed the centre government. No longer do they have to chase the pricey Jayalalitha or Mamata Banerjee. The question comes now that what will these two powerful women do next to keep their influence in the Lok Sabha? Maybe it's time to extend hands to each other. But for now they both have a iron fist in their respective states; Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.