Jaideep Deogharia,TNN | Dec 18, 2015, 09.41 PM IST

Panchali Sarkar: The woman behind country’s ‘poorest’ CM
Panchali Bhattacharya (Sarkar), wife of Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar – TOI photo
RANCHI: Behind every successful man there’s a woman — and behind the modesty of Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar, there’s his wife Panchali Bhattacharya (Sarkar), who has been instrumental in upholding high values set by the CM and the political outfit, CPM to which both owe an allegiance.

The Tripura CM who is known to lead a modest life having no immovable property, car or bank balance worth mention in his name has found a true soulmate in Panchali, who has never complained about the lifestyle that she leads alongside her husband.

She is in Ranchi to attend the national general council meeting of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), of which she is an active member. She arrived at Ranchi along with other comrades after buying a ticket of the second class railway. “We both do not use government facilities and resources out of our own choice, Sarkar Babu (Manik Sarkar) is a full timer and supports his life on the subsistence allowance provided to him by the party,” she said.

Asked if she ever compares her life style with the high standard of living of wives of other chief ministers of the country, the sexagenarian CITU activist promptly replies—we enjoy the lifestyle we are leading where our doors of the residential government quarter remain open to one and all at least thrice a week.

People in Tripura love their CM to the core and Panchali has been witnessing their admiration since she got married in 1992. “I completed my post-graduation from Calcutta university in Sociology and got associated with the activities of the party where our co-activists encouraged both of us to tie nuptial knots,” she said still blushing with the memories of past. “You may call it an affair but the only thing I would admit is that we knew each other and at one point in time I was worried if I would be able to lead my entire life with a man who is so much dedicated to the party and cause of society,” she said adding that later she realised it was not a wrong decision.

Panchali who worked as a government servant in the central social welfare board for more than 30 years spent 28 years of her life in Agartala and never thought of quitting the job even after getting married to a man who later became the CM. Often seen moving on auto-rickshaws in Agartala and buying grocery like any other common woman she loves cooking Hilsa for her husband and makes it a point not to use government facilities, even if forced upon the family. “We have too many guests at our home every day and sometimes I take help of cooks but we both love to attend to them,” she said.

The CM washes his clothes and polishes shoes everyday not even allowing his wife to touch shoes. “He is particular about regular exercise and pranayama and listens to classical music for one hour every morning,” she said admitting that nowadays she too starts her day in same style.