Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is composing a state song and designing a state emblem for West Bengal. Sources said the song and the emblem were meant to be “powerful assertions of Bengal’s unique culture” as one that’s “distinct from north India”.
The move comes at a time when the Trinamool Congress is focusing on countering the BJP’s push into the state, with the Chief Minister recently alleging that the BJP was “importing an alien culture” into Bengal.
A source close to Banerjee said, “The song will have three verses. It is being written and composed by Mamata Banerjee. The idea was to find a song that would capture the essence of Bengal.” Sources added that Banerjee was in the process of shortlisting candidates to lend voice to the song, with a popular playback singer among those being considered.
“The central theme of the song will be that Bengal has a unique identity. This identity is tied deeply to its values of secularism. The people of Bengal have never been divisive. Kolkata was the first cosmopolitan city and the city, like the state, always welcomed differences. That will be the underlying theme of the song,” said the source.
This theme, TMC insiders said, was also meant to be a political message for the BJP-led Centre and their “aggressive promotion of Hindi and Hindutva in Bengal”. A senior leader said, “Over the past few years, the BJP has been attempting to curb the rights of Bengal — starting from financial deprivation to cultural corrosion. For instance, people have started saying ‘Dhan Teras’ while forgetting their own ‘Traidoshi’, which, in fact, is where the word ‘teras’ comes from. All this is a very dangerous form of cultural assimilation.”
Meanwhile, work on Bengal’s state emblem, which has been in the works for months, is almost complete, said sources. In February, Banerjee had asked officials to come up with suggestions for an emblem.
An official in the Bengal secretariat added that the government’s Biswa Bangla logo was among those being considered for the state emblem. The latest draft of the emblem, sources said, combines the Biswa Bangla logo and the Lion Capital of Ashoka at Sarnath.
Bengal won’t be the first state to adopt a state song. Tamil Thai Valtu, written by Manonmaniam Sundaram Pillai and composed by M S Viswanathan, is the state song for Tamil Nadu. Bande Utkala Janandi, an Odia patriotic poem written by Kantakabi Laxmikanta Mohapatra, is the state song of Odisha and Jai Jai Garavi Gujarat, a poem written by Gujarati poet Narmadashankar Dave, is the state song for Gujarat.