Agartala : Manik Sarkar assumed office as Tripura CM for a record fourth successive term. He is probably India’s only CM who does not own a home, car or bank balance worth mentioning. He does not even have a mobile phone and has never used the red beacon on his official car and washes his own clothes every morning.

India’s second longest serving communist CM after West Bengal’s Jyoti Basu , Sarkar, 64, led a coalition of the CPI-M and the CPI to a huge electoral win in Tripura, the only state the Communists remain in power after their electoral defeats in their bastions of WB and Kerala in the last national election. Popularly known as ‘Manik Da’, he was known as a firebrand leader since 1970s who espoused popular causes. Born in a lower middle-class family, his father was a tailor and his mother an employee of the state health department. His wife was an officer of the central social welfare department. CM  since 1998, he is known to be a honest man with a spartan lifestyle. In the Feb 14 polls, Sarkar defeated his Cong rival  by 6,017 votes. This is his sixth electoral victory. “This is a verdict in favour of development, peace and stability besides good governance,” he said.

Undoubtedly the “poorest” CM in India, Sarkar, according to documents filed with the Election Commission, has Rs 10,800 in cash. In line with CPI-M rules, Sarkar gives away his salary to the party, which pays him

Rs 5,000 a month. Sarkar’s wife who retired as a government employee in 2010, has Rs.22,015 in cash and Rs.24,52,395 as savings. The couple doesn’t have any children. She said her husband still washes his clothes every morning. “My wife’s pension can sustain us. My expenses are a small pot of snuff and a cigarette a day,” he  said adding: “We always become happy when we see  people are laughing owing to their happiness.” After the death of his mother in 2009, he inherited a small house worth Rs 200,000 in Agartala. He donated it to his only younger sister.

Even the opposition Congress doffs its hat to his personal honesty and transparency. “We could not raise any questions against Manik Sarkar’s honesty and integrity. There might be some misdeeds in his government, but Manik is absolutely honest,” state Congress leader Tapas Dey  told IANS.

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