Change in West Bengal's nomenclature evokes mixed reactions

Cricketer Debang Gandhi feels that the changed name is appropriate. "I am happy that the government has settled for a name that is in our vernacular language."
An all-party meeting here yesterday, presided over by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, unanimously decided to rename the state as 'Paschimbanga.'

Expressing happiness that the name 'West' has been dropped from the state's name, veteran writer and Sahitya Academy chairman Sunil Ganguly said, "but the word 'Paschim' remains. It would have been better if the name 'Bangla' was adopted since the rest of the country refers to the state as 'Bengal' in English and 'Bangla' in Hindi."

To educationist Sunanda Sanyal, 'Paschimbanga' is the best option. "Earlier West Bengal came last during national presentations owing to its alphabetical position. Paschimbanga is better," he said.

During the tenure of Jyoti Basu, the Left Front government proposed the name 'Paschimbanga,' while Congress wanted it to be 'Bangla.' Agreeing to the Congress' suggestion, the government passed a resolution in the Assembly seeking the change of name to 'Bangla.'

This time, however, the Left suggested the name 'Bangla,' while the Congress wanted 'Paschimbanga.'

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee told news men after the all-party meeting that the government wanted to change the name of the state to get the administrative advantage.

Actor-film-maker Aparna Sen thinks that the state should have been renamed 'Bengal' to move it up the alphabetical ladder.

"I don't see the point in renaming the state Paschimbanga as the letter P is low in the alphabetical ladder. Bengal would have been better," she said.

Partha Mitra, a medical representative and amateur group theatre actor, said there has hardly been any change since the West Bengal had always been referred to as Paschimbangla in Bengali.

"East Bengal doesn't exist. So why call the state Paschimbanga?" Mitra asked.
Dissident Trinamool Congress MP Kabir Suman, however, sees no difference in the new name. "We were already calling the state Paschimbanga in Bengali. So what was wrong with West Bengal?" he said.

The BJP, which had objected to its exclusion from the all-party meet that decided on the change of nomenclature, had earlier opposed a proposal to drop the word 'West' or 'Paschim' from the name of the state, saying that it would be obliterating a part of history: the partition of India.

"We thank the Chief Minister for retaining 'Paschim,'" a party source said.
To Nitai Biswas, an accountant with a private firm, the all-party meeting was an attempt in 'hoodwinking' the people.

"Did the government make any attempt to ascertain the opinion of the common people? Who decided to change the name, the political parties? Were all the political parties invited? The government is only imposing its whims on the people," Biswas said.

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