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Manik Sarkar: The poorest Chief Minister of India

Written By: HarunurRashid
25/07/2013 17:30
Social Issues

Of late whenever I think of corruption as a social phenomenon, I am reminded of an Urdu couplet which reads like this: Gulistan ki barbadi mein ekhi ullu kafi hain/ Har shakh pe ullu baitha hain anjame gulistan keya hoga (For the destruction of a garden just one owl is good enough; now there are owls perching on every branch, what will be the fate of the garden).

In the backdrop of social belief that an owl is a sign of bad omen for a garden which must have to face blight or a natural disaster, the poet is amazed to see owls sitting on every branch of the trees, hence his anxiety for the ultimate fate of the garden. Once the reader is able to establish a link between the garden and the society and between the owl and a corrupt person, he may find it eloquently illustrative of our society.

Corruption is like water which always seeps down from the upper levels to the lower. And that reminds me of a Jacobean tragedy, the Duchess of Malfi. Antonio has just returned from the French court. He is full of scorn for the Italian courtiers whom he sees as more corrupt than the French. He praises the honesty of the French king and comments that corruption is like a river that flows down from its source and if the river is polluted at its source, the whole country downstream is polluted altogether. And I think that is an apt commentary on most of the democracies in the developing world.

But it was a pleasant surprise when I came to know about Manik Sarkar, the Chief Minister of Tripura, India. Manik Sarkar who is a communist (Marxist) and an avowed atheist is the poorest Chief Minister of India. And it is no wonder that in 2013 he has become the CM for the fourth consecutive time. On January 25, 2013 the Indian newspaper The Hindu wrote, “Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar can arguably be dubbed ‘the cleanest and poorest’ chief minister in the country with personal property, movable and immovable, valued at less than Rs 2.5 lakh.” Sarkar whose monthly salary is Rs 9,200 donates it to the CPIM party fund and in return gets from the party Rs 5000 for his upkeep.

 When he submitted his affidavit during the election in January, the statement showed Rs 1080 cash in hand and his bank balance stood at Rs 9720 only. He has a tin shed house of 432 sq ft, inherited from his mother Anjali Sarkar whose market value is Rs 2,20,000. His wife is better off who has retired from a central government job and has Rs 23,58,380 in bank – no, no, don’t jump to conclusions, it is her retirement benefit. And she has jewellery worth 20 gm of gold. Manik Sarkar, 64, is probably the poorest political figure in office in not just India but the whole 

Surprisingly, he does not evoke interest of the western media because he represents a brand of politics which the corporate world does not approve of.  Why blame the western media, we here in Dhaka live within 55 miles from Agartala and how much we know about this great soul? Atheist? Well, I wish some of our politicians were atheists like him. He reminds me of the golden age of Islam when the Caliphs used to consider themselves as the servants of the people they governed. 

Manik Sarkar is a beacon of light in corruption-ridden India. Indians have reasons to feel proud of him. And to the best of my knowledge, he has no Prince of Wales in the making. 

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About HarunurRashid

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  • Name: Professor M Harunur Rashid
  • From: Dhaka
  • Nationality: Bangladesh
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    Professor Harunur Rashid is a Cambridge Gradute, former professor of North South University, now Teaching English at International Islamic University Chittagong(IIUC), Dhaka Campus. Contributing as an Associate Editor of The Independent and former DG of Bangla Academy.


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