Kolkata: In a setback to Mamata Banerjee, the Centre refused to clear the West Bengal government’s proposal to change the name of the state to ‘Bangla’, saying the move required constitutional amendment.
Soon after this, Banerjee sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for expediting the matter.
“I would again request you to kindly accept the wishes of the people of West Bengal, as enshrined in the resolution of the West Bengal legislative assembly and in the proposal pf the West Bengal cabinet, to rename our state as 'Bangla' in English, Hindi and Bengali. This re-christening will be in consonance with the history, culture and identity of our state and will reflected the aspirations of our people. I would request you to kindly get this amendment done accordingly in the current session of the Parliament,” reads an excerpt from the letter.
On Wednesday, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai informed the Lok Sabha that the Union government had not given its go-ahead to the proposal.
The West Bengal Assembly had unanimously passed a resolution to change the name of the state in all languages. All parties, including the Left, Congress and BJP agreed to the proposal, which was later sent to the Centre.
It was during the Partition in 1947 that the British province of Bengal was split into West Bengal, which stayed with India, and East Pakistan (formerly East Bengal) which went to the newly created Pakistan. While East Pakistan went on to become Bangladesh in 1971, its Indian counterpart continued to be called West Bengal.
On August 29, 2016, the state assembly had passed a resolution to change the state’s name to ‘Bengal’ in English, ‘Bangla’ in Bengali and ‘Bangal’ in Hindi. The Union ministry of home affairs rejected the proposal, saying a state cannot have three different names in different languages.
TMC sources said Banerjee wants to rename West Bengal as it will help the state move up the alphabetical order in any official circular list prepared by the Centre. As of now, West Bengal sits at the bottom of the table, but doing away with ‘West’ would help it climb up to No. 4.
On July 16, 2018, after Banerjee attended an Inter State Council meeting in New Delhi, she shared her displeasure with close associates, saying she was made to speak at the very end “after six hours of waiting when none was willing to listen”.