Agartala: He is probably the poorest Chief Minister in India. Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar has no home and his bank balance is just Rs 13,920.
“I am dependent on my wife Panchali Bhattacharjee, who is an officer of the Central Social Welfare Board under the Central Government,” he said over the weekend. The 59-year-old Marxist has no land, no vehicle and no other moveable or immoveable assets. Sarkar's financial condition came to light when he submitted nominations along with an affidavit declaring his assets on January 31 ahead of the February 23 Assembly Elections.
“As Chief Minister, Sarkar received a monthly salary of Rs 9,200 and subsidiary allowance of Rs 1,200 per month and these amounts he donates to the party fund, like other party men,” said Gautam Das, the State spokesman of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M). A non-smoker and teetotaller, Sarkar's critics and archrivals in the Congress and other opposition parties are also quite impressed by his personal integrity and honesty. “We have no doubt about his honesty, but most of Sarkar's fellow party leaders and workers are not honest,” said Tapas Dey, former legislator and Congress spokesman.
Sarkar's wife also leads a simple life and prefers travelling in rickshaws. “If Sarkar and his wife take part in the same programme, the Chief Minister goes in his official vehicle while his wife travels in a rickshaw or an auto,” said an official of the Chief Minister's secretariat. Sarkar, a close follower of late Chief Minister Nripen Chakraborty who was the father figure of the Communist movement in Tripura, has now set his sight on creating political history in Tripura by becoming Chief Minister for the third straight term. The Marxist leader is contesting the Assembly Elections for the fifth time since 1981 and fighting from Dhanpur in west Tripura for the third consecutive time.
In a sharp contrast, former Chief Minister and State Congress President Sarmir Ranjan Burman shows his assets valued at Rs 16.41 million while his party colleague and another former Chief Minister Sudhir Ranjan Majumdar submitted an affidavit declaring assets totalling Rs 5,50,000. Opposition Leader Ratan Lal Nath has moveable or immoveable assets worth Rs 21,62,000.
“According to the election laws, declaration of value of all moveable or immoveable assets of all contesting candidates is mandatory and if anybody gave a wrong declaration, the court may take appropriate legal against the person concerned,” said G.S.G. Aayangar, Chief Electoral Officer, Tripura.