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Renaming of West Bengal: Bangladeshis say India’s internal matter, scholars fear confusion over identity

The West Bengal Assembly earlier in the day passed a resolution to rename the state as ‘Bangla’. The state is now waiting for a nod from the Union home ministry for the resolution's final approval.

india Updated: Jul 27, 2018 11:19 IST
Renaming West Bengal,West Bengal Bangla,Bangla
The West Bengal Assembly passed a resolution to rename the State as ‘Bangla’ in three languages — Bengali, English, and Hindi, in Kolkata on July 26, 2018. (PTI Photo )

Bangladeshis appeared indifferent to the West Bengal government’s decision to rename the state on Thursday, considering it an internal matter of India, although some scholars feared the change could create confusion among the native people in the region across both sides of the border.

The West Bengal assembly earlier in the day passed a resolution to rename the state as ‘Bangla’. The state will have to wait for the nod from the Indian Home Ministry for a final approval on the resolution.

Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League’s joint general secretary Mahbubul Haque Hanif said the decision was not their concern as they are not related to it.

“We are neither North Bengal nor South Bengal, we are independent Bangladesh and so their decision will not affect our status or identity and neither it is conflicting to our interest,” he told PTI.

Professor Arefin Siddique, a former vice chancellor of the Dhaka University, the oldest university in Bangladesh, said though the people of his country and West Bengal share a common language and heritage in intellectual terms, “the political geography made a clear division” and the “decision is unrelated to us”.

“It is an internal affair of our neighbouring country,” Siddique said.

Playwright and poet Iraj Ahmed, however, said the West Bengal state assembly’s resolution could create confusion as “the very concept of Bengal which once was there, does not exist anymore” since the 1947 Partition.

“Being a citizen of another country, I don’t have any say, but I think it could be a little confusing as some of their (West Bengal) intellectuals as well (have) earlier criticised the renaming move,” he said.

Bangladeshi journalists’ apex forum Federation of Bangladesh Union of Journalists (BFUJ) Secretary General Omar Faruque largely agreed with Ahmed, saying he viewed it as an “incorrect decision”.

“It is not a pleasant decision for the people of Bangladesh ... it could create a confusion over the identity of Bangladeshis and West Bengal people,” he said.

But poet Ruhul Ghani Jyoti said the decision would not create identity crisis for Bangladeshis or the people of West Bengal.

“The reality is their (West Bengal people) prime identity is they are Indians ... it is good if the decision brings them any benefit,” he said.

The West Bengal government’s move is aimed at climbing the alphabetical sequence of state names in which West Bengal appears last in the list now.

Earlier, the Centre had rejected the state government’s proposals of having three names Bangla (in Bengali), Bengal (in English) and Bangal (in Hindi).

The Mamata Banerjee government’s proposal of renaming West Bengal as “Paschim Bango” in 2011 was also turned down by the Centre.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

First Published: Jul 27, 2018 11:19 IST