West Bengal may soon become Bengal in English and Bangla or Banga in Bengali. After decades of deliberation, the first concrete step of renaming the eastern state was taken on Tuesday, with the cabinet adopting a resolution.
It has to be ratified in a special meeting of the assembly, which may take place on August 29-30. The resolution will then be sent to the Centre for approval of Parliament.
But before that, the proposal will be discussed at an all-party meeting where the assembly speaker will be present.
“The assembly will meet for a special session ...to discuss the matter and adopt a resolution,” said education minister Partha Chatterjee after the cabinet meeting.
The name of the state capital --- and the national capital till 1911 -- was changed to Kolkata in January 2001 by the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee-led Left Front government. It was previously known as Calcutta.
Senior bureaucrats and politicians from West Bengal often complained that they were attended to at the end of high-level meetings in Delhi where representatives were called in accordance with the alphabetical order of their states. If the eastern state gets the new name, it will leapfrog from bottom of the list to the top of the pecking order.
“The change in name will be to protect the interests of the state,” minister Chatterjee said.
Union minister Babul Supriyo, an MP from the state, posted on Twitter: “Bengal in English is fantastic & makes a great pair with Bangla the State & it’s language Bangla Bhasha - but not BONGO.”
Bangla is Good, but definitely not BONGO•Bongo is an instrument that is played (Bajano hoe)!Do not want people 2 crack dirty pun about it— Babul Supriyo (@SuPriyoBabul) August 2, 2016
Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay, a renowned Bengali author, said: “This is actually no change in name. We are merely going back to the old name.”
He was referring to the pre-Independence era when a united West Bengal, Bangladesh and some parts of India’s northeast were together known as Bengal.
Lyricist and film director Anindya Chatterjee suggested that there should be a referendum to consider the change of name.
After ending the Left rule in 2011, chief minister Mamata Banerjee changed the names of a number of roads and metro stations (Tollygunge station became Mahanayak Uttam Kuma etc.).