Of a Minister Poem by Chandrakanta Murasingh Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English for Students


Of a Minister is a poem written by one of the best-known poets from the Northeast Indian state of Tripura. Although it is unknown when this poem was first released, the version mentioned here was translated into English by Saroj Chaudary in the year 2005. Murasingh’s works are largely political in nature and aim to capture the socio-political landscape of the state of contemporary Tripura. This poem mirrors the poet’s general thematic inclinations as well. In the poem, the poet draws a comparison between a citizen and a political representative to show their positions in a political hegemony. 

About the Author 

Chandrakanta Murasingh, born in 1957 in Tripura, Northeast India, is a prominent poet known for his contributions to Kokborok literature, the language of the indigenous tribe in the state. Despite facing challenges in receiving primary education as a child of shifting cultivators, Murasingh has become a literary figure committed to capturing the complexities of contemporary life in Tripura. His poetry reflects the struggles of a region marked by the presence of both extremists and the Indian Army, overshadowing the natural beauty of rivulets and birdsongs. Murasingh has published five books of poetry and was awarded the Bhasha Samman by the Sahitya Akademi in 1976 for his significant role in developing Kokborok literature. Residing in Abhoynagar, Agartala, and working in a bank, he remains conscious of representing a language historically marginalized; Kokborok gained state language status only in 1979. His poetic exploration extends beyond the natural landscape, encompassing the intricate intersections of nature, politics, and culture in the everyday life of Tripura. Murasingh’s poetry embraces a diverse topography, from tribal hamlets to the intellectual milieu of Kolkata seminar rooms


The poem consists of nineteen lines that are arranged into 4 stanzas, each constraining 4 to 5 lines. The poem is written in a conversational tone as the speaker expresses their inner thoughts. 

Lines 1- 6

There are times I get weary of talking;

Words, sounds and echoes whirl within.

At such times I wish I were a minister:

The best way to relieve the heavy winding entrails.

The minister has so much to say,

He never suffers from pent-up words.


The poem begins with the poet admitting that they get tired of talking sometimes. The different aspects of language, like words, phonetic sounds and the echoes, whirl inside of the speaker’s mind. At moments like these, the speaker wishes that they were a minister. According to them, the best way to relieve the pressure of speaking that might build up in one’s “winding entrails” can be done if one becomes a minister. The speaker claims that the minister has so much to say and so, he never suffers from pent-up words. 


In the first verse itself, the poet has highlighted a clear hierarchy of power that seems to exist between the political representatives and the citizens of a country. A citizen is treated like someone who might not have with them, the same degree of expression and power that a political representative possesses. On account of this, any citizen is bound to feel as if they have pent-up emotions since they are never given a chance to express their opinions. On the other hand, a minister harbours great political power owing to which, everyone listens to him. And so, it is as if the minister holds back nothing from expressing out loud, which is in contrast with the speaker. 

Lines 7-11

There are times when I find all roads blocked,

The threatening Ker-bows aimed from all sides.

At such times I wish I were a minister.

The ministers know and show a thousand roads.

They live on crossroads at a million junctures.


The speaker further goes on to admit their feelings. They say that they often feel as if they cannot venture forth on any road, since all of them are blocked. It is as if the speaker is being threatened with “Ker-bows” from all sides, and is thus, restricted and prevented from moving a lot. At times like these, the speaker wishes to be a minister. This is because a minister “knows and shows a thousand roads”. People like the minister have all the roads opened to them and it is as if they stand at the crossroads of a million junctures. 


As the poem progresses, the poet aims to establish a clear dichotomy between the citizen, and the political representative. The citizen has no power due to which, he is not allowed to explore a lot of avenues in society. Moreover, on account of his status, he might also be threatened if he were to exercise his basic fundamental rights. On the other hand, a minister has a million avenues that are opened for him. Rather than the government treating both the citizen and the minister as equal, the minister gets more privilege, in terms of status and power. 

Lines 12-15

The day comes with the colour of monsoon winds

And gets lost on the sandbanks of the dried riverbed.

We sit sad and quiet and look outside,

And think, if I were a minister.


Here, the speaker changes the subject. They go on to describe the general landscape of their environment. Although the day is hopeful with the colours of monsoon winds, it ends on the sandbanks of riverbeds that are dry and suffer from a scarcity of rain. The speaker again asks the readers to wonder how different their reality would be if he were a minister. 


This section of the poem describes a natural imagery that is symbolic of the political landscape of the speaker’s state. It is as though, the speaker and the others are promised with the surety of abundant rains. Due to this, their day opens up with all of them hoping for lives that are filled with resources and opportunities. The reality, however, is contrary. Their lives are like the sandbanks of those riverbeds, that are dry and haven’t experienced the joys of rain for a long time. It is as though, all the promises made to them were empty and hollow. However, all this wouldn’t be the case if the speaker were a minister who had a lot of power and resources. 

Lines 16-19

The minister has neither inside, nor outside,

No air, no fertile soil on the sandbank.

There are only words, call of a hundred open roads,

Pulling at the sleeves day and night.


In the last section, the speaker directly criticises the minister. The speaker remarks that the minister “has neither inside, nor outside”. The minister has no air or fertile soil on the sandbank. These promises very in fact nothing but words, a false call for a hundred open roads. And these words do nothing but pull the sleeves day and night. 


Here, the speaker provides a commentary on the political choices of all those who form the government. A minister is described as a hollow man, with neither an outside nor an inside. It is as if the speaker is saying that the minister does not function on any ethical values or beliefs. In reality, the promises made by the minister are nothing but hollow words. In reality, there is no air, rain or fertile soil at the sandbank. All these, in actuality, are just hollow promises and claims made by the minister.