Rameshwar Singh has been driving a taxi on Kolkata's streets for more than three decades. He witnessed the Left Front coming to power in 1977, and Jyoti Basu and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee rule West Bengal for 34 years.
Today, the 54-year-old talks about Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee's rule with a note of optimism. "This woman wants to do something good for Bengal," he says. "Something good is happening."
A hundred days into her tenure, such enthusiasm seems to be common across West Bengal, although tangible benefits are yet to reach the masses. The reason? Within hours of being sworn in, Banerjee outlined her immediate agenda - solving the woes of the "unwilling farmers" of Singur, resolving the statehood demand in Darjeeling Hills and ending Maoist violence in Jangalmahal.
The government passed the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Bill as a move towards returning 400 acres to farmers. The matter is now in high court. "The farmers have no problem waiting," said Becharam Manna, Haripal MLA. "She promised to return land, which had been forcibly taken by the Left government. She has kept her promise."
On July 18, the government signed a treaty with Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) to create the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. "She is the first chief minister who has treated the people of the Hills with respect," said GJM leader Roshan Giri. But the accord, many believe, is a temporary solution as demand for Gorkhaland remains strong.
Banerjee extended an olive branch to Maoists in Jangalmahal, releasing political prisoners, promising to induct 10,000 youths into the police and provide grains to the poor at Rs 2 per kg. But most of these promises are yet to be met because of shortage of funds.
Trying to change her anti-industry image, Banerjee met top industrialists in June and set up a special committee to bring in investment.
But major proposals are still awaited. Banerjee has roped in personalities like Amartya Sen to help reform the education sector, but people close to the Trinamool have grabbed many plum posts.