West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to expedite the process of changing the state’s name to 'Bangla', according to news agency PTI. This came hours after Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said the Centre has not yet given its nod to change the name of West Bengal to 'Bangla' as proposed by the Mamata Banerjee government. Rai said this in a written response in Rajya Sabha to a question from MP Ritabrata Banerjee.
"No, sir," he said when asked whether the Centre has cleared the name 'Bangla' for West Bengal as proposed by the state government.
Changing a state's name requires constitutional amendment and it is done after taking into consideration all relevant factors, Rai said.
On July 26 last year, the West Bengal assembly had passed a resolution unanimously to change the name of the state to 'Bangla' in the three most-spoken languages -- Bengali, Hindi and English -- and had sent the proposal to the Home Ministry.
It suggested 'Paschimbanga' in 2011, but it was turned down by the central government.
In 2016, it proposed 'Bengal' in English, 'Bangla' in Bengali and 'Bangal' in Hindi, which was also turned down. Finally, it proposed the name 'Bangla' in July last year.
When the earlier proposals were received, there was objection from the central government that suggested the name 'Bangla' had similarity to Bangladesh and it would be difficult to differentiate the two at international forums, a senior official privy to the developments said.
The 2018 proposal was also referred to the Ministry of External Affairs for its view.
The last time the name of a state was changed was in 2011, when Orissa became Odisha.
Bombay was renamed Mumbai in 1995, Madras as Chennai in 1996 and Calcutta as Kolkata in 2001.
The central government had approved name changes for 11 cities in Karnataka, including that of Bangalore to Bengaluru, in 2014.