No house for Mr Sarkar, office is home

The CPM headquarters here is outgoing Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar's new home.

By Debraj Deb in Agartala
  • Published 9.03.18
Manik Sarkar bids adieu to the staff at his official residence, while leaving his home of two decades, in Agartala on Thursday. Picture by Pranab Shil

Agartala: The CPM headquarters here is outgoing Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar's new home.

Sarkar, 69, and his wife Panchali Bhattacharjee vacated the seven-room, two-storey official residence of the chief minister on Marx-Engels Sarani, their home for the last 20 years, at 4pm on Thursday and shifted to a single-room guest quarter on the top floor of the three-storey CPM state committee office, Dasharath Dev Bhavan, at Melarmath, less than a kilometre away, officer-on-special-duty for the outgoing chief minister Dinesh Sarkar said.

The living quarters of Tripura's longest-serving chief minister doesn't even have a kitchen, as the party office's common canteen handles the guest menu.

The family of two took several packets containing books, clothes and items of daily necessities. The couple will stay at the CPM headquarters till the new government allots accommodation for Sarkar, the party's office secretary, Haripada Das, said. "Packets containing books, lying at the party office, will be taken by Sarkar when he leaves for his new dwelling," he added.

Bhattacharjee, a retired central government employee, said they had donated several books to the government-run Birchandra State Central Library here while other Marxist literature was given to the CPM's state office library. She owns a small flat in the Krishnanagar area here which she shares with her sisters. Sarkar, however, has declined to stay there.

Though Sarkar is still the chief minister of the interim caretaker government that is handling state affairs till a new government under the BJP is sworn in at the Assam Rifles ground here on Friday, sources close to him said the veteran communist leader chose to vacate the chief minister's residence "gracefully".

The four-time chief minister does not have any property attached to his name. He has less than Rs 4,000 in his bank account as per an affidavit filed to the Election Commission before the polls. He used to donate his entire salary as the chief minister to the CPM and in return got a monthly allowance of Rs 5,000.

Sarkar was born on January 22, 1949 at Radhakishorepur in Udaipur of Gomati district, 50km from here, in a middle class family. His mother Anjali was a government employee and his father Amulya a tailor. He, however, never mentioned his father's name in affidavits submitted before the Election Commission for contesting in polls.

Sarkar has been winning from Dhanpur Assembly constituency in Sonamura subdivision, 70km from here, since 1998, the year he became the chief minister. Earlier, he had won from Krishnanagar constituency here in a bypoll in 1980. He won for the second term from the same seat in 1983. This year, he won by 5,441 votes against BJP candidate Pratima Bhowmik though the Left Front led by him faced a crushing defeat and was reduced from 51 MLAs to 16.

As the chief minister, Sarkar was entitled to Z-plus security convoy. Now he will be entitled to normal security cover, like any other MLA. However, if the Left Legislature Party names him leader of the Opposition, he may get additional security.

His wife, who has always travelled on a richskaw for shopping or other household chores, said life would not be different, whether she was a chief minister's wife or a former CM's wife.