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West Bengal seeks name change to 'Bangla', but it's not as easy it seems

Changing the state's name from West Bengal to Bangla is not as easy as it may seem, it requires Centre's nod and amendment to the Constitution. 

Reported by: Agencies, Kolkata [ Published on: July 26, 2018 20:22 IST ]
This West Bengal CM's thrid attempt to change the state's
Image Source : PTI

This West Bengal CM's thrid attempt to change the state's name

The West Bengal Assembly today passed a resolution to rename the state as 'Bangla'. The state will now have to wait for a nod from the Union home ministry for the resolution's final approval. 

The move was aimed at climbing the alphabetical sequence of state names in which West Bengal appears last in the list now, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier said.

The resolution said the state will be called Bangla in three languages -- Bengali, English and Hindi.

The Centre had in the past rejected the state government's proposal of having three names -- Bangla (in Bengali), Bengal (in English) and Bangal (in Hindi).

The Mamata Banerjee government's move to rename West Bengal as 'Paschim Bango' in 2011 was also turned down by the Centre.

The chief minister said, "The home ministry told us that three names cannot be approved and we have to choose any one name for our state and pass another resolution in the Assembly."

Banerjee also said that the name 'Bangla' was chosen as "it is the identity of Bengal". "We cannot say Bangal because it will be a problem for non-Hindi speaking people," she said.

"So many states have changed their names. There was talk about renaming the state during the Left Front rule. We too had taken a decision earlier. I do not want to go into any controversy. Rather, I would say that let us pass the resolution unanimously and send it to the Centre for its approval," she said.

State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee moved the resolution in the House which was unanimously passed.

What the process entails: How to change the name of a state?

Though the West Bengal Assembly today passed a resolution to change the name of the state from West Bengal to 'Bangla', the process for the final approval is a long drawn one that includes an amendment in the Constitution.

The first proposal of the Mamata Banerjee government to rename West Bengal had faced opposition from the the Centre on the ground that it sounded similar to a neighbouring country's name, Bangladesh. Also, the Centre wanted just one name for the state in three languages -- Bengali, Hindi and English, officials said.

When the fresh proposal formally comes to the Union Home Ministry, it will prepare a note for the Cabinet to bring an amendment to the Schedule 1 of the Constitution. After that, the Constitution amendment bill will be introduced in the Parliament, which has to be approved with a simple majority, before the President gives his assent.

When the 2011 proposal was received, there was objection from the Central government that suggested name 'Bangla' has similarity to Bangladesh and it would be difficult to differentiate the two at international forums, said a senior official privy to the developments then.

It is to be seen what will be the central government's view now as the state assembly today proposed to change the name 'Bangla' in all three languages, the official said.

The name of any state was changed last time in 2011, when Orissa became Odisha. Names of Bombay was changed to Mumbai in 1995, Madras to Chennai in 1996, Calcutta to Kolkata in 2001.

The central government had approved the name changes for 11 cities of Karnataka, that include Bangalore to Bengaluru, in 2014. 

What the scholars say?

Eminent personalities in West Bengal today welcomed the TMC government's move to rename the state as 'Bangla'.

The state Assembly today passed a resolution to rename the state as 'Bangla' in three languages -- Bengali, English and Hindi.

Film director Goutam Ghosh said that he was happy with the move.

The name Paschim Bango (West Bengal) had reference to the partition, he said. "It rekindles the painful memory of migration and leaving behind one's residence and property, one's place of birth and growing up."

The new name will leave behind that past, Ghosh, who had directed a film on the partition a few years ago, said.

"It will enable Bengalis to think they have a state of their own. Like the way the people in Bangladesh feel that the Bengalis have a country of their own in this world," he said.

Thespian Soumitra Chatterjee said while the name 'Paschim Bango' (West Bengal) had been in use for a long time after Independence, the new name 'Bangla' is all right.

"I have no problem if our state is known as Bangla from now on," the Dada Saheb Phalke award winner said.

Popular Bengali writer Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay said, "We all had been asking for this for long."

"Feeling happy, this is what I had wanted. We all had known this place as Bangla since our childhood days. Hence renaming it after the partition as West Bengal was totally illogical," Mukhopadhyay said.

"By renaming it as Bangla, we are retaining the tradition and the long history of this region," he said. 

(With inputs from PTI)

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