In an affidavit submitted earlier this week with his nomination papers seeking re-election from his Dhanpur constituency for the 18 February Assembly polls, the 69-year-old Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) Politburo member declared his assets, including bank balance and immovable assets.
He possesses inherited land measuring 0.0118 acres in Krishnanagar, on the outskirts of this capital city, jointly with his lone sister.
Tripura’s longest-serving Chief Minister (since 1998) does not have a personal car, any investments or assets; nor does he have a mobile phone or an email account and is not active on social media.
Vehemently against the use of a red beacon on his official car, Sarkar’s current bank balance of Rs 2,410 as of 20 January is considerably less than the Rs 9,720 he had in his account ahead of the 2013 Assembly elections.
“Manik-da, as per the party’s tradition, donates his entire salary of Rs 26,315 as Chief Minister to the CPI-M fund. In turn, he receives a monthly allowance of Rs 9,700 from the party for his livelihood,” CPM leader Haripada Das told IANS.
“We follow Manik-da’s simple lifestyle. His favorite tiffin (meal) is ‘muri‘ (puffed rice). His wife, Panchali Bhattacharjee, never uses the government car and travels in rickshaws, auto-rickshaws and public transport in most cases,” said Das, who maintains the official records of the Tripura CPM.
According to Sarkar’s affidavit, his wife, a retired central government officer, has Rs 20,140 cash in hand and Rs 12,15,714 in her bank accounts and fixed deposits. Bhattacharjee too has inherited an immovable asset (a building) with a market value of Rs 21 lakh and 20 grams jewellery valued at Rs 60,000.
Sarkar and his wife live in the official residence of the chief minister in Agartala. They have no children or dependent.
Opposition parties also occasionally appreciate Sarkar’s simple lifestyle.
Praising Sarkar’s plain way of life, Tripura Pradesh Congress vice-president Tapas Dey said that India’s genuinely poorest Chief Minister was veteran Marxist leader Nripen Chakraborty, who governed the northeastern state for 10 years (1978-1988).
“A bachelor, Nripen Daa had left the Chief Minister’s official residence in 1988 with a small tin box containing his belongings and some books and he lived in a small MLA’s hostel room till his last breath on December 25, 2004,” said Dey, a former legislator.
Bharatiya Janata Partya’s Tripura spokesman Mrinal Kanti Deb said that Sarkar’s bank balance, according to his affidavit, had reduced and during his 20 years of governance the economic position of the people of Tripura had also gone down.
Among India’s Left leaders, Sarkar is one of the main faces and key political figures in Tripura, which has been ruled by the Left Front since 1978 with a five-year break between 1988 and 1993, when the Congress and its tribal party ally Tripura Upajati Juba Samity were in power.
In the election fray since 1981, Sarkar has been elected to the state assembly six times — 1981 (by-polls), 1983, 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2013 — and is seeking re-election from the Dhanpur assembly constituency for the fifth consecutive time.