West Bengal will become “Bengal” in English, “Bangla” in Bengali and “Bangal” in Hindi, if the centre accepts the state’s proposal. The renaming was endorsed by the assembly today but the opposition Left, Congress and BJP walked out in protest.
“History will not forgive those who are opposing this. This is a historic day and will be remembered in golden letters,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters.
The opposition walked out of the assembly after a war of words during the chief minister’s speech.
“The Left also tried to get the name changed, they failed. They are now opposing the name change,” Ms Banerjee commented.
With its new name, the state will be bumped up the queue in national meetings. The chief minister had often complained that she rarely got a chance to speak in these meetings because West Bengal came at the end of a list of 29.
For the Bengali name of the state, the government was divided between “Banga (pronounced like Bongo the instrument)” and “Bangla”, which is a term used for local unbranded liquor.
“Bangla” has won hands down, Ms Banerjee declared.
The state is currently called “Paschim Banga” in Bengali.
In 2001, the previous Left government led by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had cleared the renaming of the state to “Paschimbanga”. The central government led by Atal Behari Vajpayee didn’t accept the suggestion, but Calcutta became Kolkata at the time.
Independence and partition in 1947 led to the division of the Bengal province into West Bengal, which stayed in India, and East Bengal, which is now part of Bangladesh.
Speaking on earlier attempts at a name change, late writer Sunil Gangopadhyay had said, “If there is no East Bengal, how can there be a West Bengal?”