The Centre on Wednesday told Rajya Sabha that no move has been made on changing the name of West Bengal to Bangla, prompting Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to expedite the process.
In a written response to a question by Independent MP Ritabrata Banerjee, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai, said the Centre has not yet given its nod to change the name of West Bengal to Bangla as proposed by the state government. “Change in the name of a state requires constitutional amendment after taking into consideration all relevant factors,” Rai added.
Targeting the Centre for not clearing the proposal, Trinamool Congress’s leader in Rajya Sabha Derek O’Brien said, “The West Bengal Assembly has twice passed the proposal to change the name… This government is bringing Constitution amendments like popcorn. It is the duty of the Centre to pass it. An elected government in the state has made the move.”
In her letter, Banerjee has urged the PM to get the required constitutional amendment done during the current Parliament session.
“The name West Bengal is in English and Paschim Banga in Bengali, And it does not bear the testimony of the classical history that our state has,” Banerjee wrote in her letter.
Banerjee wrote that on September 8, 2017, the state cabinet decided that the name of the state should be “Bangla’’ in Bengali and the Assembly followed it up with a resolution on July 26, 2018. “The chief secretary, West Bengal, communicated this position to the union home secretary on 21.8.2018 requesting him to initiate necessary action to alter the name of the state of West Bengal to Bangla in English, Hindi and Bengali. I would request you to kindly get this (required constitutional) amendment done accordingly in the current session of the Parliament,” Banerjee wrote.
The state government had suggested the name “Paschimbanga’’ in 2011, but the Central government turned it down. In 2016, the state government proposed ‘Bengal’ in English, ‘Bangla’ in Bengali and ‘Bangal’ in Hindi. This too was turned down. Finally, the state government proposed the name ‘Bangla’ in July last year.
The Centre had argued that the name ‘Bangla’ was similar to Bangladesh and it would be difficult to differentiate between the two at international forums. The 2018 proposal was also referred to the Ministry of External Affairs for its view.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in Assembly Abdul Mannan said, “The Centre’s decision not to change the state’s name is politically motivated.”
Left Front Legislature Party leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “It is unfortunate that the aspirations of the people of Bengal are not being respected by the central government.”
BJP MP Debashree Roy Choudhuri said, “There is a history associated with the state’s name. So a state’s name cannot be changed in a hurry…”