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What Ticks in Tripura?
|by Ananya S Guha|
Even as the Chief Ministers in three North East states are sworn in very little attention seems to be paid to Tripura, where a party has got absolute majority single handedly and is being elected to power, five times in a row, with the present incumbent winning three times in a row! Also apart from the fact that Manik Sarkar is no political pushover, the media is underplaying his honesty and integrity.
The man has a personal bank balance of a few thousand rupees, has given the house that he has inherited to his younger sister. He is childless, and his wife was employed in a government office and after retirement her saving shows an amount just over 20 lakhs. Compare this with Chief Ministers who have assets worth a few crores and you will discover that all is not lost in Indian politics and polity. That Manik Sarkar donates almost everything he gets by way of salary to his party does not seem to impress our media. However, it was only one magazine from Guwahati which early this year highlighted him as among the twenty most influential men in the region and in a state known for its backwardness socially, economically and geographically.
Moreover, the Chief Minister like his party has always been empathetic towards the tribal population which are in a minority and which understanably is disgruntled, taking into account that it constitutes the indigenous peoples. Yet the leftists in Tripura including people like Nripen Chakraborty and Dasrath Deb have been also instrumental in bringing semblance of peace and development. But the roads to development took place mainly in Manik Sarkar's rule where connectivity of roads as well as the IT sector received great impetus. He was also responsible for brining the concept of public private partnership and encouraged private intervention especially in the IT sector.
Even his worst adversaries admit that Manik Sarkar is an impeccably honest man, certainly a rare breed among politicians today. That the Marxists have lost resoundingly in West Bengal and Kerala but have won with aplomb in Tripura is a certainty that a lot has depended on the virtues of leadership. True they were always known to be close to the tribal population as they understood them better than the other political parties, but it is also to Sarkar's political genius and acumen that he has been able to transform a party into a people's party. Other political parties in the country should get the clear message of how honesty and political intelligence can work wonders on the people of this tiny state in North East India.
While the swearing in ceremonies of two Chief Ministers in North East India are singled out with prominence it is not the case with Tripura. Yet the media makes it known that he is the ‘poorest’ Chief Minister in the country whose interests are people focussed and he has nothing to look forward to in terms of personal gain. In such a situation his example is not only exceptional but it is a silent story of working for the poor, the landless and the deprived.
Moreover, Manik Sarkar’s attempt at providing employment to the tribals has also resulted in his popularity. The Marxists in Tripura have always shown concern for tribals and the indigenous peoples. They have also shown interest in the literature and culture of the state varied as it is with tribals, the tea garden communities, the Chakmas, the Meiteis and of course the majority the Bengalis. This rich cultural assortment has always been highlighed by them and if Tripura is on the way to peace and development, it is only due to them.
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