Guwahati: For Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, the tag of being the "poorest Chief Minister in India" comes not a bit embarrassing, but rather he is appreciative of it.
"I enjoy reading these reports that describe my economic status. When people talk about this, I really enjoy," Sarkar told a news agency.
Sarkar`s personal property, movable and immovable, is valued at less than Rs 2.5 lakh - an amount woefully shy of the multi-crore rupees worth of property some of the country`s chief minister possess.
As per the affidavit submitted by the Tripura Chief Minister, a post Sarkar holds for four consecutive terms, during filing of nomination for the Dhanpur constituency in the last Assembly Election in January, he had Rs 1,080 cash in hand.
His bank balance stood at just Rs 9,720, as per the affidavit.
Asked how he is leading such a clean and austere life at a time when corruption has become almost the order of the day among politicians, Sarkar said, "The credit of all this goes to my party. The party has imbibed this culture in me."
The CPI(M) politburo member said, "If I do not maintain that, then it will be an erosion inside me and the fall will start."
Sarkar is the longest serving Chief Minister of Tripura. He took over the reins of power in the tiny landlocked Northeastern state hemmed in by Bangladesh in 1998.
Asked what was the secret of his popularity is in the state, Sarkar said, "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. If we try to fulfil people`s expectations, they will obviously then elect us."
According to the affidavit, the 64-year-old politician inherited a house measuring just 432 square feet with a tin-shed structure from his mother Anjali Sarkar.
Its present market value is just Rs 2,20,000.
However, his wife Panchali Bhattacharya, who is a retired officer of the central government, has a fixed deposit of Rs 23,58,380, mainly her retirement benefits. She also possesses 20 gm of gold, the present market value of which is Rs 72,000. She has Rs 22,015 cash in hand.
The couple do not have any movable property and the total value of immovable property and cash stood at Rs 24,52,395.
Like other party members, Sarkar donates his full salary and subsidiary allowances to the party and instead the party pays him Rs 5,000 per month as subsistence allowance.
During the filing of the affidavit, the Chief Minister`s monthly salary was Rs 9,200 which, perhaps, was the lowest in the country.