The West Bengal assembly on Thursday passed a resolution to rename the state as ‘Bangla’, but the process for final approval will be long drawn requiring an amendment to the constitution.
The move is aimed at climbing the alphabetical sequence of state names in which West Bengal appears last in the list now, according the state officials.
The resolution said the state will be called Bangla in three languages – Bengali, English and Hindi.
State education minister Partha Chatterjee moved the resolution in the House which was unanimously passed.
The state BJP, however, later said that it was in favour of renaming West Bengal as ‘Paschim Bango’ (West Bengal) and not ‘Bangla’.
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.
She told the assembly, “There were detailed discussions on the name change many times. Last time, it was discussed on August 29, 2016. The Union home ministry did not act on our proposal of changing the name for two years. Subsequently, I had personally requested the Union home minister.”
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.”
When the fresh proposal comes to the home ministry, it will prepare a note for the Union cabinet for an amendment to the Schedule 1 of the constitution, officials said in Delhi.
After that, the constitution amendment Bill will be introduced in parliament, which has to approve it with a simple majority, before the president gives his assent to it, they said.
Banerjee 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.
Bengali is the fifth most-spoken language in the world, she said and referred to the International Mother Language Day.
BJP member and state party chief Dilip Ghosh, who was present in the House, did not participate in the discussion. He told reporters later that the name ‘Paschim Bango’ is connected with the memory of the Partition and “the word ‘Bango’ is included in our national anthem”.
“There is no justification to rename the state only because it will help in climbing the alphabetical sequence of state names. You have to work to take the state forward,” he said.
Eminent personalities in the state, however, welcomed the TMC government’s move to rename the state as ‘Bangla’.
Film director Goutam Ghosh expressed happiness over the passage of the resolution and said the name Paschim Bango had reference to the Partition. “It rekindles the painful memory of migration and leaving behind one’s residence and property, one’s place of birth and growing up,” he said.
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,” he said.
Veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee said while the name ‘Paschim Bango’ 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 as this is what I 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.