At a time when politicians in India are known for indulging in corruption and amassing wealth at the cost of tax payers’ money, Tripura’s outgoing chief minister Manik Sarkar has set an example by living a simple and modest lifestyle. After vacating the Chief Minister’s residence in the aftermath of his party’s defeat in Tripura assembly polls, Sarkar and his wife Panchali Bhattacharya will now stay in a two room flat above the CPM’s party office. Sarkar doesn’t have his own house and has refused to stay in MLAs hostel. Today politicians own several flats, land, vehicles, hefty bank balance and investments. Some of them are running educational institutions, charitable trusts but what sets Sarkar apart from his peers is that he donates his entire salary and earnings for his party’s development by accepting a small stipend. However, a question which arises here is, do politicians like Sarkar have relevance in today’s political arena where corruption rules the roost?
Mumbai Congress Chief Sanjay Nirupam said that Manik Sarkar is the honest chief minister and possess a clean image. “Under such circumstances, if his government is ousted out of power then it is a blot on democracy. I don’t know how BJP emerged victorious as the party has failed to deliver the promises made by it to people and given false assurances to them. They can go to any extent for the sake of winning election,” he said.
As per a report released by The Association for Democratic Reform (ADR), Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu topped the list of wealthiest CMs with assets valued at over Rs 177 crore while Manik Sarkar was the poorest and his reported assets valued at just over Rs 26 lakh. Sarkar has never filed his income tax returns as his earnings are too paltry to declare.
BJP spokesperson Madhu Chavan said that Sunil Deodhar had filed a complaint against Manik Sarkar and his government for its involvement in corruption. He stated, “Sarkar’s wife might be commuting by a rickshaw or he may be travelling by bicycle despite being a chief minister but that does not mean he has provided good governance.”
“People are fed up of poor governance in Tripura, hence, they voted for BJP. Citizens can’t sustain with just communist ethics and ideology as they need employment too,” he added.
Often politicians are looked down by people for their involvement in corruption but Sarkar has shown that governance is possible sans corruption. Many politicians lack accountability and don’t provide information about the money spend by them on welfare projects as people start losing faith in them. On the other hand, Sarkar has worked hard for the welfare of masses and is known for following transparency.
AAP leader Ravi Srivastava called for the need to cleanse the political system of the country. He said, “Manik Sarkar is an honest politician and people appreciate him; therefore, he served as a chief minister of Tripura for a long period. Those who are unable to win ideological political war and election are using money and muscle power to win elections. Political funding should be transparent.”
He stated that honest people is needed to clean politics. “BJP is winning election by hook or crook but that does not mean that they have good intentions. Violent politics will not sustain as people need peace, progress, inclusive growth, equality and communal harmony,” he further said.
Sarkar had earlier stated, “We do not keep any secret from the people — that is our secret. We are transparent. We do not make any promise which we cannot fulfil. We make only those promises which we can fulfil.” He might have lost the election but people continue to respect him for the principles followed by him.
CPM office secretary Haripada Das said, “We appreciate Manik Sarkar and his dedication, honesty and transparency for providing good governance in Tripura.”
Manik Sarkar became the chief minister of Tripura first in 1998 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister of India. He is the longest serving Chief Minister of the north eastern state. This is not the first instance when Sarkar is staying in the party office. Earlier too he had stayed in the party office after donating his ancestral property to his sister. BJP and its ally Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) scripted history by winning the Tripura assembly polls and brought an end to the 25 year old Left rule in the north eastern state.