The West Bengal Assembly on Monday passed a resolution proposing the name of the state be changed to ‘Bangla’ in Bengali or ‘Bengal’ in English.
However, the government resolution under rule 169 – moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chattopdhyay – eluded a consensus, as none of the opposition parties – Congress, Left Front and the BJP – backed it.
After an intense debate, in which all parties took part, the Congress staged a walk-out, the Left Front moved an amendment and the BJP strongly spoke out against any change in the name of the state.
The resolution said the state should be rechristened ‘Bangla’ in Bengali, ‘Bengal’ in English and ‘Bangal’ in Hindi.
Backing the motion, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee referred to the “history and culture” associated with the name Bangla and said she did not have problem with the name Banga also. “But most people prefer Bangla, which is a part of the colloquial language. So we have also accepted it.”
She said as the state will be called Bengal in English, there won’t be any confusion with the neighbouring country Bangladesh. “Moreover, outside the state, we are known as people of Bengal.”
Later, she told media persons that the proposal would be sent to the central government for ratification by Parliament.
“I request the Centre to speed up the process and urge them to pass the resolution in the next parliamentary session,” she said. Banerjee also spoke to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh urging him to ensure the proposal was ratified quickly “showing due respect to what the State Assembly has passed.”
Riled over the opposition not supporting the move, Banerjee said: “They oppose for the sake of opposition. It is a historic blunder on their part. They keep on repeating such mistakes.”
Responding to a query that the state BJP has warned it would not allow the resolution to be passed by Parliament, she said: “They continue to create obstacles at every step. Who are they? It is a matter between Central and state government.”
She recalled the state earlier proposed to change the name to Paschim Banga, which was still pending before the central government.
“Before the adoption of this resolution, we informed the Centre that the earlier proposal should not be considered and the state will give the details after adopting the fresh resolution in the state assembly,” she said.
Leader of the Opposition Abdul Mannan said either a referendum should be held on the issue or a commission set up to take the final decision on a new name.
Countering, Banerjee, referring to the recent state assembly polls, said: “We all had participated in a democratic exercise three months back.”
Leader of the Left Front legislature party Sujan Chakraborty said none of the states in the country had more than one name. “Having different name in different languages will create confusion.”
The LF moved an amendment that called for only one name for the state but it was defeated.
Earlier this month, the state government adopted the proposal to rename the state as “Bengal”, a move that evoked mixed reactions from both eminent persons and commoners.
Soon after coming to power in 2011, the Mamata Banerjee government had undertaken the renaming exercise, but the bill was yet to be cleared by the centre.
Incidentally, the Left regime led by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, which in 2001 renamed the capital Calcutta as Kolkata, had made a similar proposal. But the Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool had opposed it tooth and nail then.
After the partition of India in 1947, Bengal was bifurcated as East Bengal and West Bengal. East Bengal became a part of Pakistan. It was rechristened East Pakistan in 1956 and later emerged as the independent nation of Bangladesh after the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971.