In what could trigger a fresh round of conflict between the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Centre on Wednesday turned down the latter’s proposal to rename the eastern state as ‘Bangla’.
In July 2018, the West Bengal Assembly had passed a resolution to rename the state of West Bengal as ‘Bangla’, apparently for the ease of doing business in Parliament. The proposal had been sent to the Union Home Ministry for approval.
On Wednesday, the Home Ministry informed the Rajya Sabha through a written reply that the Centre has not cleared the name of the state as ‘Bangla’.
Replying to an unstarred question by Rajya Sabha MP Ritabrata Banerjee, Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai further informed, “Change in the name of a state further requires Constitutional amendment, after taking into consideration all relevant factors.”
As per the government of West Bengal, the rationale behind renaming it as ‘Bangla’ was to ensure that matters pertaining to the state figured alphabetically at the top end in the list of business in both houses of Parliament.
West Bengal typically figures towards the end of the business list for either house which results in matters pertaining to the state coming up for discussion much beyond the lunch break.
Top leaders of the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress as well as senior bureaucrats in the West Bengal government had argued that by the time issues of the state came up for discussion, the house was more than half empty on a typical day.
However, this is not the first instance that the Central government has rejected the proposal to rename West Bengal. In 2016, the Centre had rejected a proposal by the West Bengal government to give three names to the state – Bangla in Bengali, Bengal in English and Bangal in Hindi.
The Centre had returned the proposal to the West Bengal government asking it to submit a single name following which a fresh resolution for ‘Bangla’ was passed by the state government.
The BJP and the Trinamool Congress had been in a tough fight in West Bengal during the recently-concluded general election. There was a war of words between leaders of both parties last month following attacks upon on-duty doctors in Burdwan medical college of West Bengal that led to a shutdown of hospitals in the state.