Monday, 30th October 2017

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Centre's blunt ‘no’ vs Bangla appeal

The minister said that changing the name of a state required a constitutional amendment

By TT Bureau in Calcutta/NewDelhi
  • Published 4.07.19, 3:10 AM
  • Updated 4.07.19, 3:10 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. She wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to expedite the change of name to Bangla as the state government had proposed Telegraph file photo

Non-BJP parties in Bengal have moved with alacrity to pursue an emotive issue after the Centre gave a perfunctory reply to a question whether it had cleared a proposal to rename the state as Bangla.

In response to a question whether the Union home ministry had cleared a proposal to rename West Bengal as Bangla, junior home minister Nityanand Rai said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday: “No, Sir.”

The minister said that changing the name of a state required a constitutional amendment and it is done after taking into consideration all issues.

Pat came the reply in the Bengal Assembly. “Everyone knows that a constitutional amendment is needed. But that has to be done by the Centre. My question is, why aren’t they doing it?” asked Abdul Mannan, Congress veteran and leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.

Soon after, chief minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to expedite the change of name to Bangla as the state government had proposed.

Another issue has brought together Trinamul and the non-BJP Opposition. They have decided to jointly pass a resolution in the Assembly to condemn a statement by a Union minister in Parliament that madarsas in the state are used for terror activities.

In the letter to Modi on the name change, Mamata politely pointed out that the proposal carried the weight of the endorsement of the Assembly. “I would again request you to kindly accept the wishes of the people of West Bengal, as enshrined in the Resolution of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly… to rename our state as Bangla in English, Hindi and Bengali,” she wrote.

Mamata listed the renaming efforts since 2011, involving multiple suggestions and culminating in the Assembly resolution in July 2018 to change the name to Bangla.

“You will kindly appreciate that we have, therefore, been accepting all advices of the Government of India for getting the change in the name of our state accepted in the Parliament of India…. I would request you to kindly get this amendment done accordingly in the current session of the Parliament,” Mamata wrote.

At a time attention has been drawn to a perceived cultural distance between the BJP and Bengal, Mamata added without making any reference to any contemporary event: “This rechristening will be in consonance with the history, culture and the identity of our state and will reflect aspirations of our people.”

An official said: “The Centre had pointed out that the name ‘Bangla’ might be confusing in view of the name of the neighbouring Bangladesh. The new proposal of changing the name of Bengal to Bangla in all languages does not address this concern.”

But Mamata maintains that if there can be a Punjab in India and Pakistan, there is no harm in the mutual existence of Bangla and Bangladesh.