The results of Assembly elections in northeastern state of Tripura has been termed as “historic” and “revolutionary”, as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has roared to success once again ousting Left Front’s Manik Sarkar, who is the “poorest chief minister in India” and the man who held the red flag intact when the one in saffron colour was gradually taking over the political landscape of the country.
In his election affidavit, the Tripura Chief Minister had declared a bank balance of Rs 2,410 and Rs 1,520 cash in hand. According to reports, Manik Sarkar has never even filed his income tax return because of the low level of his income.
Born in a middle-class family in 1949, Sarkar started his political journey by joining the CPM at the age of 19 in 1968. However, his first major break in politics came in 1980 only, when he was elected as a Member of Legislative Assembly from the Agartala constituency. After his victory in the Assembly elections, Sarkar was appointed the chief whip of the CPM by the politburo.
At the age of 49 in 1998, Sarkar achieved the biggest landmark in his political career by becoming the Chief Minister of Tripura, a post he will now have to let go of after almost two decades.
The biggest highlight of Sarkar’s tenure in Tripura is ending insurgency and bringing peace to the state. One of the reports on Sarkar quoted a farmer as saying that it was because him that people were able to walk out of their houses after sunset.
However, the Left Front leader has also been blamed for lack of development in the state during his tenure. Beyond Agartala, it is said that even basic health facility is lacking in almost all parts of the state while education and employment also remain challenge for the people of the state.
Even during his rallies in Tripura during the election campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had blamed Sarkar for lack of development in the state. He had said, “we need to replace Manik with HIRA”, where HIRA stood for Highways, I-ways, Roadways and Airways.
Responding to the attack, Sarkar had accused the BJP of conspiring to wipe Tripura off history.
Another criticism that the leader, touted as one of the most honest politicians the country has seen, has faced is that he failed to disassociate with the policies of the party, doing injustice to the government. His critics say that since Sarkar is a member of CPM politburo himself, he has no option but to follow the diktats of it even if it compromises the intentions of the government of the state.
Whatever his critics or admirers might say, but having been in power for almost two decades and with the clean image he holds, Manik Sarkar is certain to become an unforgettable chapter in the history of Indian polity.