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Bangla and Bengal: West Bengal Passes Resolution on Changing Name

File photo of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee

File photo of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee

Representatives of the state, both at the bureaucratic as well as political levels, found themselves speaking at the fag end of national-level meetings simply because the W of West Bengal featured way down in the alphabetical order. This, Banerjee argued, caused problems since it resulted in the state's voice remaining at best neglected or, at worst, unheard at these national forums.

The West Bengal Assembly has passed a resolution to change the name of West Bengal to Bangla in Bengali and Bengal in English.

The resolution will now be sent to the Centre seeking its approval. Once the Centre gives the nod, the state will be officially called Bangla or Bengal.

A month ago, the Mamata Banerjee government had approved a change of name to either Banga or Bangla. The choice was simpler in English: Bengal.

Banerjee had, during her first term as the state Chief Minister, raised the issue essentially over practical reasons of administration.

Representatives of the state, both at the bureaucratic as well as political levels, found themselves speaking at the fag end of national-level meetings simply because the W of West Bengal featured way down in the alphabetical order. This, Banerjee argued, caused problems since it resulted in the state's voice remaining at best neglected or, at worst, unheard at these national forums.

The final push to the cause came when Banerjee returned from New Delhi after attending the chief minister’s meet where she was most vocal on the issue of protecting the federal rights of states.

Responses from academic circles in Kolkata have been mixed. There are some who welcomed this change saying the name West Bengal has lost its relevance since East Bengal, which corresponded to the geographical territory of Bangladesh, no longer exists in India.

Others, however, aren’t happy since they feel that the name West Bengal is symbolic of the history of this part of the country, especially its partition. But ahead of the 2019 general elections, a fresh identity for Mamata Banerjee and her government could mark a fresh start towards a greater political goal.

first published:August 29, 2016, 14:45 IST