Updated: August 3, 2016 6:46:24 am
After mulling it for years, the West Bengal government Tuesday finally decided to rechristen the state by dropping “West” from its English name and “Paschim” from its Bangla avatar. The move comes six years after a proposal to rename the state as “Paschim Banga”, made in 2011 when the Trinamool Congress took office, failed to receive the Centre’s approval.
“The cabinet took up the proposal to rename the state as “Bengal” in English and “Banga” or “Bangla” in the vernacular language. Now we will convene a special session of the Assembly to pass a resolution to this effect. The resolution would then be sent to the Centre for approval from both the Houses of the Parliament,” state minister Partha Chatterjee said. Sources said the special session is likely to be convened on August 29 and 30. Prior to that, the proposal will be discussed at an all-party meeting in the presence of the Assembly Speaker.
Citing the example of states such as Odisha and cities including Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai, Partha said the words “Bengal” and “Banga” has a deep connection with the state’s culture and heritage and thus, the decision to rename it. The move to change the name, sources said, was hastened after Mamata Banerjee ended up as the last Chief Minister to speak during the Inter-State Council meeting in Delhi last month where the list of the names of the states was prepared in alphabetical order and West Bengal figured at the bottom.
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“Our CM gets to speak last when there is little time left,” a senior TMC leader said, adding several ministers and bureaucrats have in the past raised the issue of the state being placed last in the meetings in New Delhi. “Renaming the state would protect the interests of the people and the state,” Partha added.
The decision, meanwhile, triggered mixed reactions with certain sections of the political class and the state’s intelligentsia welcoming the move, with others warning that no decision should be taken in haste. The BJP slammed the decision, saying the ruling TMC was trying to wipe out the history of the painful Partition that the country had witnessed in 1947. “The state government has nothing productive to do. That is why they are either painting the state in blue and white, or trying to change its name. Actually they are trying to wipe out the painful history of Partition,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said.
“West Bengal” has a lot of emotions attached to it, Ghosh said, adding “it is ridiculous” to think that the state will surge ahead by changing the name. Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Pradip Bhattacharya suggested that a committee should be formed with a cross section of intelligentsia to go into the issue. State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury, too, suggested that it “would be better if a public opinion is sought”.
Adhir also took a swipe at Mamata. “I have heard that it is because her revolutionary speech was delayed in meetings that she decided upon this change. The name shouldn’t be changed just to facilitate her speech ahead of others,” Adhir said, adding if the proposal was brought in the assembly and the Left supports it, the Congress might support it as well. Senior CPM leader Rabin Deb said that previous Left Front government had proposed the name change at least twice —0 once in 2000, when Mamata was part of the NDA government and later in 2011. “We had proposed the name “Bangla” but Mamata, in 2011, wanted it to be “Paschim Bangla”. We had agreed to that as well but her government never sent it to the Centre later,” Deb claimed.
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