Here is why Mamata Banerjee wants West Bengal to be called as Bengal

By: | Updated: August 30, 2016 2:15 PM

The West Bengal Assembly on Monday passed a resolution for renaming the state as ‘Bangla’ in Bengali and ‘Bengal’ in English.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has toyed with the idea of changing West Bengal’s name ever since she came to power for the first time in 2011Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has toyed with the idea of changing West Bengal’s name ever since she came to power for the first time in 2011

The West Bengal Assembly on Monday passed a resolution for renaming the state as ‘Bangla’ in Bengali and ‘Bengal’ in English, weeks after a proposal in this regard was put forward by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Mamata said, “Everyone would be happy with the change of name of Bengal. The people of Bengal have accepted the name ‘Bangla’. We have given importance to that. Congress, CPM, BJP have opposed to the renaming of the state. If the opposition is doing this for the sake of it, then it is very much unfortunate.” But why was it done? We explain you the background and motivation for Mamata government’s move to change the name of West Bengal, and the next step on West Bengal’s road to Bangla/Bangal/Bengal.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has toyed with the idea of changing West Bengal’s name ever since she came to power for the first time in 2011 — initially considering Paschim Banga. On Monday, a special session of the Assembly passed a resolution to change the name to Bangla (pronounced “Baanglaa”) in Bengali, Bangal in Hindi and Bengal in English. Mamata said the name Bangla had “a historical and cultural background”, and while she did not have a problem with the other option, Banga, most people wanted Bangla. “In English it will be Bengal, so that there will be no confusion with the name of neighbouring Bangladesh,” she added.

Some practical aspects too

State officials and politicians have long felt that a name starting with W puts it at a disadvantage at meetings and conferences where states are invited to make presentations in alphabetical order. On July 16, at the Inter-State Council Meeting, for example, Mamata found that she was asked to speak “after 6 hours of waiting”. By then, officials said, most participants had left, and she found herself talking to a near-empty Council. This, officials said, is a problem typical of the way the system functions, where those seated last at the table, albeit alphabetically, are also the ones who are least heard. Right now, Bengal is the 28th state; should it get a name that starts with B, it’ll be number 4, after Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.

What happens next?

According to an Indian Express report, The proposal of the Assembly will go to the Centre, and Parliament must enact a law to change the name of the state. As per Article 3(a) of the Constitution, “Parliament may by law alter the name of any State provided that no Bill for the purpose shall be introduced in either House of Parliament except on the recommendation of the President and unless, where the proposal contained in the Bill affects the area, boundaries or name of any of the States, the Bill has been referred by the President to the Legislature of that State for expressing its views thereon…”

Earlier, in August 2008, the Orissa Assembly had passed a resolution to change the name of the state to Odisha. The Orissa (Alteration of Name) Bill, 2010 was subsequently passed by Lok Sabha in November 2010, and Rajya Sabha in March 2011. Rajya Sabha also adopted the Constitution (113th) Amendment Bill — already passed by Lok Sabha along with the alteration of name Bill in November 2010 — to substitute the name of the language “Oriya” in the Eighth Schedule to “Odia”.

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