The West Bengal government today decided to rename the state as ‘Bengal’ after its earlier proposal of rechristening it ‘Paschim Bango’, made in 2011 when the Trinamool Congress took office, failed to receive the Centre’s approval.
“The cabinet took up a proposal to rename the state as ‘Bengal’ in English and ‘Bango’ or ‘Bangla’ in Bengali. Now we are giving a new proposal and will convene a special session of the Assembly on August 26 to pass a resolution to this effect,” state minister Partha Chatterjee told reporters after the meeting.
Giving the example of states like Odisha and cities including Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai, he said the word ‘Bengal’ has a deep connection with the state’s culture and heritage and so the decision to rename it.
Another reason for changing the name is that whenever there is a meeting of all states, West Bengal figures at the bottom of the list which is prepared in alphabetical order.
“Our CM gets to speak last. There is little time left,” a minister said.
Any change in the name of the state would require approval of Parliament.
The proposal has been welcomed by the state’s intelligentsia though some said no decision should be taken in haste.
Welcoming the move, Sahitya Akademi award winning writer Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay said, “I am very happy. I wanted it much earlier. Banga is the original name, so it is not a change”.
Dadasaheb Phalke award recipient actor Saumitra Chatterjee said, “West Bengal has no meaning. The name ‘Bengal’ is more reasonable”.
Poet Nirendra Nath Chakrabarty, another Sahitya Akademi award winner, however, said, “No decision should be taken in haste in this regard. Opinion should be taken from the intelligentsia regarding the name change”, he said.
He, however, admitted that if the state is called Bengal, alphabetically it will go up in order of precedence of which there are some advantages.
Former vice-chancellor of Visva Bharati and historian Rajat Kanta Ray, however, made a dissenting note favouring retaining ‘West Bengal’.
The BJP also criticized the decision, saying the TMC wants to wipe out the history of painful Partition that the country had witnessed in 1947.
“The state government has nothing to do. That is why they are either painting the state with blue and white paint, or are trying to change names. Actually they are trying to wipe out the painful history of Partition,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said.