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Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019

Mamata Banerjee meets PM Modi, raises issue of renaming West Bengal

Responding to a question on the National Register of Citizens, she said it is part of Assam Accord, hence there is no provision of its implementation in West Bengal.

india Updated: Sep 19, 2019 14:17 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The West Bengal assembly has passed a resolution to rename the state as ‘Bangla’.
The West Bengal assembly has passed a resolution to rename the state as ‘Bangla’.(HT image)
         

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee avoided any criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday, and invited the PM to inaugurate a coal block in her state when the two leaders met for the first time in two years.

The meeting lasted almost 40 minutes. Banerjee may also meet home minister Amit Shah on Thursday. If it happens, it would be the first meeting between the two leaders, who have bitterly targeted each other in the past.

After returning from the Prime Minister’s residence, Banerjee said she stuck mostly to administrative issues and discussed some national issues with Modi. She said she had no discussion with the PM on the National Register of Citizens (NRC), of which she has been a vocal critic.

“Why should I talk about NRC? It’s not happening in my state,” she said, cautiously avoiding any political attacks.

She said she raised the proposal to rename the state—from West Bengal to Bangla—which has been pending for over a year with the Centre. While renaming the state has been a big issue for Banerjee, who is serving her second successive term as the CM, she remained open to suggestions from the Centre. “We have cleared the renaming proposal a few times in the state assembly. I told the PM, if additional words are required to be added with Bangla, I have no problem.” She also didn’t betray any sign of impatience and said, “one day, the change will happen.”

West Bengal recently won the clearance for the Deocha Pachami coal block, billed as one of the largest in the world. Banerjee invited the Prime Minister to inaugurate it. “The Centre has given us the permission for the coal block. It will create jobs for at least 1 lakh youth and will see an investment of ₹12,000 crore. I have invited him to inaugurate it after Navaratri and Durga Puja, whenever he has time,” she said.

Later, she told HT that she had deliberately refrained from engaging in politics on this trip. “Why should I be engaging in politics now? I don’t have any elections coming up in my state...He is in his position and I am in my position...”.

Banerjee’s visit raised some eyebrows. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) alleged that the visit was an effort to protect some Trinamool MPs involved in the Sarada chit fund scam. It also took place as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeks former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar, who has avoided answering summons from the agency to present himself for questioning on the Saradha scandal.