Stepping up its opposition to the proposal of the Mamata Banerjee government to rename West Bengal, state level leaders of RSS and BJP vowed to block the change in name, arguing it amounts to a conspiracy to erase the history of the Partition that led to the name in the first place.
On Thursday, an all-party meeting was held in the state assembly premises and ruling Trinamool Congress proposed to change the name to ‘Bengal’ (in English), ‘Bangla’ (in Bengali) and ‘Bangal’ in Hindi.
The BJP representative strongly opposed the move. The assembly is supposed to discuss the proposal where it is expected to sail through given Trinamool Congress’s overwhelming majority -- 211 MLAs in a house of 294 members. Other parties resent in the meeting suggested that the government should not move in a hurry, but set up a commission for the purpose that should undertake wide consultation in the society before arriving at a new name.
The state cabinet has already adopted the resolution to change the name on August 2.
To continue its opposition a BJP delegation is scheduled to meet union home minister Rajnath Singh among others on August 23 to thwart the Trinamool initiative. The Sangh leaders have already initiated the process of signature collection from people of Bengal and threatened mass movement against the name change.
“We are not in favour of the idea and will do what is takes to oppose it,” said Dilip Ghosh, BJP state president.
“This is an attempt to erase the most important as well as sad part of Bengal’s history, Partition. It was Shyama Prasad Mukherjee who played a great role for Bengal at that time,” said Sayantan Basu, general secretary state BJP.
Bengal BJP leaders have already apprised their central leaders in Delhi including party president Amit Shah of their position. “We are confident that we will be able to thwart this move. The name change needs a nod from home ministry, a union cabinet approval and two thirds majority in both houses of the Parliament,” added Sayantan Basu.
On August 16, BJP workers organised protest marches throughout the state observing the day as ‘Save West Bengal Day”.
Meanwhile Sangh leaders, too, vehemently protested against the move and is preparing for a mass movement. Sangh’s Bengal unit has already started signature campaign on the issue. The signatures and a letter will shortly be sent to union home minister stating its opposition.
Bengal Sangh leaders have already called on its supporters as well as people of the state to rise in protest.
“West Bengal is not a name of a geographical area, it has a history and emotions with it. Had it been a unified Bengal, the name could have been changed. People such as Shyama Prasad Mukherjee played a role in creation of West Bengal. We will not let people forget it. If the move for name change continues, we will initiate mass movement against it,” said Jishnu Basu, RSS south Bengal secretary.
Incidentally, the name of the state capital (and national capital till 1911) Calcutta was changed to Kolkata in January 2001 by the then Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government.
That the state needs a change of name was a need felt long ago, during the Left Front rule, and the need was utilitarian in nature. Senior bureaucrats and politicians who used to attend meetings in Delhi where representatives of other states were present regularly complained that West Bengal appeared last in the deliberations thanks to the alphabetical order.
The BJP MLA and state party president Dilip Ghosh who was present at Thursday’s all-party meeting said that if the name has to be changed indeed for this reason, it can be made “Paschimbanga” that will also take the state some steps forward in the alphabetical order.
On a smaller level, chief minister Mamata Banerjee has enthusiastically taken to changing names in her state. She has changed the names of a number of metro stations such as Tollygunge, an important station, was rechristened as Mahanayak Uttam Kumar. Lee Road was named as Satyajit Ray Dharani. Arterial Eastern Metropolitan Bypass has been named as Biswa Bangla Sarani. Salt Lake stadium, the second largest stadium in the world was renamed as Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan.