In 2011, Mamata Banerjee pulled off a landslide victory for the Trinamool Congress (TMC) Congress alliance in West Bengal by defeating the 34-year-old Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front government, the world's longest-serving democratically-elected communist government. The TMC dominated the election, winning 184 seats. The then partner Congress had won 42 and the Left lost a state it had ruled for three decades, winning only 62. However, in this election the TMC though going alone has considerable chances to win.
Relevant studies suggest that there is a considerable chance (a close to 60%), based on historical data and current alliances, that Mamata Banerjee will win a second straight term as chief minister of West Bengal, where assembly elections are being held in six phases. But the story is likely to be in the swing of votes, even the smallest. A swing of 3% votes from Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress to the Left-Congress could see the latter race ahead with 149 of Bengal's 294 seats, giving the combine a slender majority, with Trinamool trailing at 129. Importantly, this time Left is in alliance with the Congress.
In 2014, amid a Narendra Modi wave, the BJP gained primarily from a 12% swing away from the Left. If the Left can recover even half or six per cent of that, it could mean a gain of 55 seats for the Left-Congress combine.
The opposition unity, which means that the Left and Congress do not cut into each other's votes this time like they did in 2014, could also potentially mean a gain of 41 assembly seats over their tally from two years ago.
The two parties together had the equivalent of 56 assembly seats in the 2014 general elections. Had they contested that election together, they could have dominated in 97 assembly segments, though still not impacting the Trinamool's dominance.
But if they had allied in 2011, when the Congress was kingmaker in this case, Mamata Banerjee may not have been chief minister.
Mamata Banerjee, popularly known as Didi (meaning elder sister in Bengali) is the first woman to hold the office. Ms. Banerjee founded the party TMC in 1997 and became its chairperson, after separating from the Indian National Congress. In 2012, Time magazine named her one of the "100 most influential People in the World". The West Bengal seven-phase election results will be announced along with other four assemblies - Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Union Territory Puducherry on 19th May, and it will then be clear whether Didi gets the second straight term as chief minister of West Bengal or not.