Hidden Behind Manik Sarkar’s ‘poor’ ‘white kurta’ image was bloodshed and lack of development

Tripura’s incumbent Chief Minister, Manik Sarkar was propagated in the media as “India’s poorest CM“. The CPI(M) leader who has been Tripura’s CM since 1998 had declared before the state assembly elections that he has a total of Rs 3,930 in cash. His total assets were declared to be valued at Rs 26 lakh. Manik Sarkar looks the part too. Always clad in a plain white kurta-pyjama, he has a lean, unassuming frame. The four-time CM does not have corruption charges on him, but he has been leading the communist party government in the state since two decades. Has the state politics been as clean as his pristine kurta? Many would disagree.

When Madhu Deb, a booth president in Ramnagar constituency in Tripura was found hanging from a tree barely days before the assembly elections, BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma had stated that the white attire of Manik Sarkar is getting deeply stained by the blood of innocents and the people of Tripura will avenge it soon. As per reports, Madhu was the 12th BJP worker murdered in the past six months. The BJP alleged that CPI(M) has been committing political murders in the state.

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On January 3, another BJP worker Amulya Malakar was murdered in Tripura.

the body of Amulya Malakar

These incidents were not stand alone. Several murders, attacks and even rapes have been reported from Tripura where the allegations were on CPI(M) goons. The murder of RSS and BJP workers has been long going on in Kerala, Tripura has not been very far behind. Both states have been ruled by the same party. In Manik Sarkar’s Tripura, violence was not limited to murders. Recently several Muslim families had alleged that they were threatened by CPI(M) goons and were denied entry to the village mosque after they joined the BJP. Many previous communist leaders have joined BJP in recent times, and there are reports that the CPI(M) machinery commits the murders as a message for them, as to what would be their fate if the defied the communist rule. Violence has always been the choicest tool of communists and political murders are just another manifestation of it.

Murders apart, the lack of development in Tripura is another blemish on Manik Sarkar’s image. According to recent surveys, the state has the highest number of teenage mothers in the country. The state lacks even the most basic infrastructure and healthcare facilities. Addressing an election rally in Sonamura in the state, PM Modi had said that the ruling CPI(M) wants people to be dependant on it for everything and that is the new face of slavery.

An article titled “Tripura, a red state stalked by death disease and despondency” in the Swarajya magazine states that the state has virtually no industries. Basic amenities like roads and healthcare centres are a distant dream for the majority of the population. Even the state capital Agartala has no modern infrastructure and sees several hours of power cuts every day.

Tribals make almost 30% of the state population. Yet many of them live in absolute poverty. The central government schemes have not reached them yet and as per the report, out of the Rs 15,956 crore state budget, only 635 crores were sanctioned for the Tripura Tribal Area Autonomous District Council, which is responsible for the welfare of these people. BJP state general secretary Rajib Bhattacharjee states that after the NDA government came to power in the centre almost 70,000 crores has been given to Tripura for developmental work, but most of it has gone back due to lack of utilisation. Of the amount that has been ‘used’ most is expected to have ended up in the coffers of ruling communist leaders as there hardly any development to be seen on the ground. The people, especially the tribals, live in absolute poverty and starvation deaths are common in the state. The number of matriculates is just 9.2% among the tribal population.

The North East has been neglected by the media since always. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the rest of India was not even aware of the conditions in the NE states and the problems and crimes plaguing the people there. But the present central government has been aggressive in its outreach to the NE and finally, the NE has started to become a part of the national news. The state of Tripura has been under communist rule for very long time and there is no telling how many of the crimes would have gone unreported, how many starvation deaths ignored and how many corruption charges unprobed. Manik Sarkar’s kurta might be flawlessly white, but the long communist rule has been keeping many dark secrets covered up in Tripura.

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