From now, West Bengal will be known as Bengal

West Bengal officially dropped its prefix on Monday as the state Assembly passed a resolution accepting the change in name. Henceforth, the state will be known as just Bengal in English, awaiting the ratification of both the Houses of Parliament.

The state will be rechristened Bangla in Bengali and Bangal in Hindi, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.

Making the announcement, Mamata said that for the Bengali name of the state, the government was divided between Banga, pronounced like Bongo, the percussion instrument, and Bangla, which is also the word used to describe local country liquor.

Paschim Banga
The state is currently known as Paschim Banga in Bengali, which was what the previous Left Front government wanted in English.

Mamata’s government made the suggestion to rechristen the state about a month ago, with the chief minister arguing that dropping West from the name would have practical advantages for the administration. “We have to wait as our turn would come last in the alphabetic order and mostly, we remained neglected or unheard at national forums,” Mamata said.

‘Historic day’
She also criticised the Opposition Left, Congress and BJP for walking out during the session as the House passed the resolution. “History will not forgive those who are opposing this. This is a historic day and will be remembered in golden letters,” she told reporters.

“The Left had also tried to get the name changed, but they failed. They are now opposing the name change,” she added. In 2001, former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government had proposed changing the name to Paschim Banga even in English, but the Centre had turned it down.

While the Left moved an amendment to Monday’s resolution, proposing a single name in all languages, the Congress claimed to be ideologically opposed to the idea. The BJP argued that changing the name would be tantamount to undermining the history of the Partition.

“West Bengal got its name after Bengal was divided into two in 1947. As there was East Pakistan, we had West Bengal. Dropping the West from the name is an insult to the millions of Hindus who lost their lives while coming to India,” state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said.

The saffron camp, however, seemed divided over the matter as Union Minister of State Babul Supriyo welcomed the name change even as other state BJP leaders were vocal in opposition.

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