Finally, after 70 long years West Bengal has been able to take a step to shed a name that reminds some of a painful history.
In a resolution adopted by the West Bengal Assembly on Monday, it was decided to drop the prefix ‘West’ from the name and call the state Bengal in English and Bangla in Bengali languages.
The Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had proposed the change in name of the state a few weeks ago.
The resolution was supported by 189 members of the WBLA. The Congress, the Left Front and the BJP did not support the resolution.
Congress MLAs, in fact, walked out of the Assembly followed by Left MLAs. This left Banerjee furious.
“The CPIM today made a historic mistake by not supporting our government’s move to change the name. Their role on the issue of name changing is also deplorable. In future, the party will have to pay a price for the role they played in the state Assembly today. Both Congress and Left have objected to our move just for the sake of opposing it and nothing else,” Banerjee told reporters.
She pointed out that the Left, when it was in power, itself had tried to change the name of the state but failed.
One reason for a change in name of the state is that alphabetically, West Bengal comes last in lists of states at meetings.
The bigger reason is that the ‘West’ in West Bengal reminds some of the Partition of India in 1947, when Muslim-dominated region came to be called East Bengal (East Pakistan from 1956 till 1971).
Bengal was divided into two parts in 1905 by the then Colonial rulers for better administration.
The name change will be significant because it might help shed a somewhat emotional and largely political baggage that came with the partition.
East Bengal became Bangladesh in 1971, making the name West Bengal all the more redundant for practical reasons.
This resolution, however, does not officially confirms the name as Bengal. It will now be forwarded to the Centre for final approval. Mamata said her government will request the Centre to pass the resolution through the Parliament.