Renaming of West Bengal: Mamata Banerjee slams Centre for delay in clearing proposal passed in July

Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the Centre on Wednesday for allegedly dragging its feet in clearing a proposal to rename West Bengal as 'Bangla', which was unanimously passed by the state Assembly in July.

Banerjee said the BJP has been changing names of historical places and institutions unilaterally "almost every day" to suit its "interests" but when it comes to Bengal, the attitude is totally different.

On 26 July, the Assembly passed a resolution unanimously to change the name of the state to "Bangla" in the three most-spoken languages Bengali, Hindi and English and sent the proposal to the Union home ministry.

Banerjee's government had proposed to rename the state on three earlier occasions.

It suggested "Paschimbanga" in 2011, which was turned down by the Centre. In 2016, it proposed "Bengal" in English, "Bangla" in Bengali and "Bangal" in Hindi, which too was turned down. Finally, it proposed the name 'Bangla' in July.

File image of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

File image of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

"It is pending there (with the home ministry) for a long, long time," Banerjee said in a statement.

"After Independence, there have been changes in the name of a few states and cities, like Orissa to Odisha, Pondicherry to Puducherry, Madras to Chennai, Bombay to Mumbai, Bangalore to Bengaluru etc, keeping in view the sentiments of the state and local language. Those are genuine," she said.

The West Bengal Assembly had passed a resolution to change the name of the state on the basis of local sentiments related to "our mother tongue, Bangla", she added.

"The Union home ministry advised us to use the name Bangla in all three languages. Accordingly, our Assembly passed a unanimous resolution to change the name of the state to 'Bangla' in all three languages and sent it to the Union home ministry again," she said.

On reservations from some quarters that Bangla would sound very similar to Bangladesh, she said names should not create a hurdle as "there is a Punjab in our neighbouring country as well as in India".

Criticising the BJP, she said a political party with "zero strength" in the state cannot decide on changing the name of that state.

The proposal to change the name was made only after a resolution was passed unanimously by the state Assembly in accordance with the constitutional obligations and federal structure, which should be respected, she said.

"The people of Bengal must get a positive response immediately," Banerjee said. Later, she told a Bengali news channel that they (Modi government) are "bulldozing the federal structure" of the country.

"They are not following the Constitution. They are doing whatever they like. This cannot go on. What we have done (suggesting a name change), we have done it constitutionally," she said.

The Opposition Congress and the left front extended their support to Banerjee's comment and accused the BJP of doing politics over the issue.

"We had supported the name change Bill in the Assembly. We feel that the issue of changing of name of the state is related to the sentiment of the people. That is why we had supported it. But the BJP is trying to play politics over the issue. We condemn it," Leader of Opposition Abdul Mannan said.

Left front Legislative party leader Sujan Chakraborty too echoed Mannan's views. The BJP leadership, however, has questioned the very justification of the name change.

BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) was trying to wipe out history so that the future generations don't get to know why the state bears the name 'West Bengal'.

"Actually, to serve the interests of a specific community, the TMC is trying to change the name of the state," he alleged.

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Updated Date: Nov 14, 2018 23:43:43 IST

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