A picture that speaks a thousand words on assets, liabilities and the damn Communists

When N. Lakshman Rau, IAS, the man who built the best parts of Bangalore, including all the 10 blocks of Jayanagar, retired as the City’s top administrator, he moved into rented accommodation on Museum Road.

Rent: Rs 700 per month.

Unlike today’s bastards and bandicoots, Rau-saheb had not spent his tenure ripping off people to build a bungalow, denotifying a civic amenity site to gobble it up, or quietly stashing up cash for a “country home”.

When the end came, as it will for all of us, for Rau-sahab in 1988, and a year later for his wife, Indira, they did not have a single piece of “property” in Bangalore in their name.

Lakshman Rau, if you didn’t know, was the son of the Dewan (chief minister) of Mysore, ‘Rajamantrapravina’ Nyapathi Madhav Rau, the very same person after whom the circle is named in Basavangudi.

Agartala is 1881 km from Bangalore, but this image of Manik Sarkar, chief minister of Tripura for 20 years, with his retired wife, Panchali, in their new home—a room of the CPI(M) guest house—tells us plenty.

If we want to listen.

It reminds you, also, of A.B. Bardhan, the CPI general secretary, the sum total of whose assets at his death was an almirah, a coat, a couple of shirts, a pair of shoes, a few books, and a fine head full of concern and empathy.

In an age when Narendra Modi spends Rs 3,755 crore to promote himself; when Amit Shah’s darling son Jay Amit sees a 16,000 times jump in turnover; when Siddaramaiah is “gifted” a Rs 70 lakh Hublot watch, Mr and Mrs Sarkar present a contrasting picture.