Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the Centre on Wednesday for allegedly dragging its feet in clearing a proposal to rename West Bengal to “Bangla”, a proposal 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 July 26, 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 this year.
“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.