The suspense of the last few weeks over whether or not Mamata Banerjee ‘will make it’ helped her in more ways than one. It made her into a larger-than-life figure, fighting with her back to the wall, pitted against the might and money of a formidable BJP. Moving about in a wheelchair with her left foot in a cast from an injury in the middle of the campaign helped optics.By taking on Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram – a huge risk given that he had looked after the area on her behalf before he crossed over to BJP – she enthused her cadre as no other move had done, taking the battle into enemy territory. At the time of writing, her own election result hangs in suspense. It’s not that she is not going to take oath as CM if she loses. She will contest from another constituency. But it will take away some of the sheen of her otherwise impressive victory against all odds.BJP’s high decibel campaign in West Bengal over 8 phases, with Narendra Modi addressing over a dozen rallies and Amit Shah many more, turned her into object of sympathy, particularly among women voters. Muslims have rooted for her, and she is believed to have gained around 15 seats as a result. That is why the Left-Congress-Indian Secular combine have been wiped out.For the opposition, she has emerged as a symbol of the fight against BJP, holding out the recipe for success against the party — fightback and ground-connect.It would be foolish to dismiss BJP which has made impressive gains in Bengal, compared to its performance in 2016. It is not likely to make life easy for Mamata in the coming weeks and months. She will have her task cut out with a hostile Centre and an aggressive BJP in the state, especially when a pandemic has to be seriously managed.These elections show that when BJP is pitted against regional chieftains who are credible faces, it is possible to be defeated, even with Modi as chief campaigner. Pinarayi Vijayan has held his own in Kerala and MK Stalin has breached the AIDMK fortress in Tamil Nadu.Mamata had hinted during the course of the campaign that she would be turning her attention to ‘Delhi’. Several opposition leaders – Sharad Pawar, Tejashwi Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal – had lent their support to her, even though it was mostly at the psychological level. She is now well-placed to take an initiative to bring the political groups – and sections like protesting farmers – together on a common platform.If the opposition does not have a commonly acceptable ‘chehra’ to take on Modi nationally, it can evolve a common narrative, and a federated structure of like-minded parties to step up pressure on BJP. So, can Didi become the face of the entire opposition? Unlikely, especially for the Hindi heartland or the South. But she will certainly take initiatives to bring them together around big themes, like the role of the Election Commission during these elections.Covid is fanning a growing anger against the Centre. People are not likely to forget the shortage of hospital beds, oxygen and vaccines in a hurry. They are also unlikely to forget in a hurry that BJP’s central leadership made winning Bengal its life and death battle, when there is a real life and death struggle on across the country. Clearly, how state governments handled the Covid crisis last year was an issue with the voter. Or Vijayan – his handling of the pandemic going down well with voters in Kerala – would not have made it back to power.Mamata’s victory will give new heart to an otherwise demoralised opposition. Shiva Sen has already hailed her as a ‘Bengali tigress.’ The underlying message being: If she can come out tops against such odds, so can we.