The Louis XIV Legacy

Poet and the State

Asok chattopadhyay

Louis xiv said: 'l'etat c'est moi' that’s for I am the state.

And this concept has found in later years to have been cropped in tyrannical governments’ mindset. Whoever throned in power considers him a Louis XIV and vigorously utters in arrogance: I am the state and is empowered enough to say the last. No rulers except nil preaches something other side of the visible sky.

The Congress government in West Bengal in the early seventies of the last decade stepped much forward to annihilate the poet Saroj Dutta in the first dawn of August 5, 1971. Another poet, Birendra Chattopadhyay, flagged his protest of this heinous killing of a poet high near the sky and wrote a poem in a Bengali Weekly published from Calcutta (now Kolkata) inviting a furious cry of vengeance getting the head of him (Sri Chattopadhyay). Many a poet wedded to the Naxalite politics did have been killed either in the open public or inside the jails in the Congress regime.

Poets generally are the harbinger of an unknown tone of poetry which seldom suits with the vested interest of the powers in the state. States demand eulogy, sycophancy and pet-dog-bark in the poetical works of the poets. The face book accounts of the reputed Kerala Poet Satchidanandan for criticizing Narendra Modi and Amit Shah had been blocked. Satchidanandan in protest wrote: ‘If the choice is between being on the FB and being a democrat and a human rights defender, I have no doubt where I should stand.’ Such defiance the state cannot bother. Despite being Congress-pet the poems of Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, a poet of Bihar origin, have been much quoted by the BJP and the RSS leaders as the contents of the poem plead for veer rash that matches blue with the nationalism BJP and the RSS plead emotively for. It has been reported that many a pracharak ‘of the RSS have been known to use Dinkar’s poems during lectures for swayamsevaks and in their articles for Panchjanya and Organizer.’

The West Bengal rulers, in different hues in different times, have been found reacting the poets singing something alien to their vested interests. The renowned poet Sankha Ghose had to bear the brunt of the ruling class at times he failed to tune with them in his poetic creations.  

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Vol. 54, No. 14-17, Oct 3 - 30, 2021