surge in Tripura. From zero in 2013, the saffron party has gone up to a 2/3 majority in a state where the Left has been comfortable in power for a quarter of a century.
It is a body blow for Sarkar, who has been guiding the destiny of Tripura for 20 long years. Sarkar is India's poorest Chief Minister, with a paltry Rs 1,520 cash in hand and Rs 2,410 in a bank account.
In an affidavit submitted from his Dhanpur constituency for the February 18 assembly polls, the 69-year-old Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Politburo member declared his assets, including bank balance and immovable assets.
He possesses inherited land measuring 0.0118 acres in Krishnanagar, on the outskirts of this capital city, jointly with his lone sister.
Tripura's longest-serving chief minister (since 1998) does not have a personal car, any investments or assets; nor does he have a mobile phone or an email account and is not active on social media.
Vehemently against the use of a red beacon on his official car, Sarkar's current bank balance of Rs 2,410 as of January 20 is considerably less than the Rs 9,720 he had in his account ahead of the 2013 assembly elections.
"Manik-da, as per the party's tradition, donates his entire salary as Chief Minister to the CPI-M fund. In turn, he receives a monthly allowance of Rs 9,700 from the party for his livelihood," CPI-M leader Haripada Das told IANS.
"We follow Manik-da's simple lifestyle. His favorite tiffin (meal) is 'muri' (puffed rice). His wife, Panchali Bhattacharjee, never uses the government car and travels in rickshaws, auto-rickshaws and public transport in most cases," said Das, who maintains the official records of the Tripura CPI-M.
According to Sarkar's affidavit, his wife, a retired central government officer, has Rs 20,140 cash in hand and Rs 12,15,714 in her bank accounts and fixed deposits. Bhattacharjee too has inherited an immovable asset (a building) with a market value of Rs 21 lakh and 20 grams jewellery valued at Rs 60,000.
Sarkar and his wife live in the official residence of the Chief Minister here. They have no children or dependent.
The BJP campaign was led by PM Modi and votes were sought in his name. His cutouts and posters were all over Agartala and elsewhere. The ground work was done under the leadership of Sunil Deodhar, BJP's in-charge for the state, and the local poster boy was Biplab Deb, the state party chief, and a frontrunner for the state's top job now.