Who Is the Most Honest Chief Minister in India?


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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India is a country where most Chief Ministers of states and politicians amass wealth and assets during their tenure of office. Would you believe that there is one among them who has no house or a car in his name, or a bank balance worth the mention? Surprising isn’t it? Yes, we are proud to have such a person since March 1998 as the Chief Minister of one of the States in India.

Manik Sarkar, Chief Minister of Tripura, India
Manik Sarkar, Chief Minister of Tripura, India

Manik Sarkar, the tall, gentle person, wearing white kurta, is currently the Chief Minister of Tripura. In the assembly elections held in 2013, he was sworn in as the chief minister of Tripura for the fourth consecutive period.

In 2008, Manik Sarkar’s cash in hand and bank deposits totalled Rs.16,120. According to his affidavit for the 2013 Tripura Assembly election this amount has come down to Rs.10,800. It shows that Manik Sarkar was the only Chief Minister in India to have the lowest personal monetary resources.

Born on January 22, 1949, Manik Sarkar is a Politburo Member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). In March 2008, he was sworn in as leader of Left Front of the coalition government in Tripura.

The official sources list Manik Sarkar’s monthly salary as the lowest received by any Chief Minister in India. Even then, he donates to his party his entire salary of ₹12,500, and the allowances, paid to him as the Chief Minister. The party in turn pays him ₹5000 (US$81) as subsistence allowances. When reporters asked him how he runs his household on the paltry sum, he said:

“My wife’s pension can sustain us both. My expenses are small enough for a packet of snuff and a Charminar cigarette a day. About a home, we’ll see.”

Manik Sarkar is married to Panchali Bhattacharya, a former employee of the Central Social Welfare Board. She retired in 2011. The couple lives a very simple life. They do not own a car, and the wife never uses any official vehicle which are out of bounds for her even though she is the Chief Minister’s wife. She travels by rickshaw in Agartala with no personal security guards accompanying her.

In 2009, after the death of his mother, Manik Sarkar, inherited a small house in Agartala which he donated to a relative.

Manik Sarkar is an honest person keen on developing his home state of Tripura. He aims for better connectivity and development of IT sector in his state. But he has his own detractors.

His chief antagonist is 48-year-old Sudip Roy Barman. He was the President of Tripura Congress Committee. Sudip said that Manik Sarkar’s honesty is a carefully cultivated legend. Once he asked:

“Where does he get money to buy the hundreds of white kurta-pyjama sets he owns? Ora spectacle frame that is worth Rs.60,000? How can he afford sandals worth Rs.6,000? Why doesn’t he act against the corrupt ministers? It’s all a ploy. First, he encourages them to indulge in corruption, then blackmails them with the threat of legal action, thus pre-empting any challenge to his leadership.”

A professor of Tripura University who did not want to be named said:

“He [Manik Sarkar] may be an honest person, but Sarkar is a ruthless politician. If he feels threatened by anyone, their wings are clipped. Yet, the Congress has little chance to dethrone him, thanks to its internal rivalries.”

Manik Sarkar defended himself: “Where is the power? It’s with the Centre. Small states like Tripura suffer. We have to fight for everything that is rightfully ours.” He added, “My spectacles cost Rs.1,800. My sandals are also cheap. I love to look neat, but that doesn’t mean I buy expensive stuff.”

When compared with other chief ministers in India, this simple gentleman is often cited as the “cleanest and the poorest Chief Minister in India”.

Yes. Manik Sarkar is poor, but a flawless diamond!

Map of Tripura state, showing its eight districts
Map of Tripura state, showing its eight districts

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