West Bengal government’s move to rename WB as “Bangla” has hit a roadblock after concerns that the new name may sound like Bangladesh, and it would be difficult to differentiate the two at international forums.

In a letter to Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the Union Home Ministry stated that the proposed name “Bangla” may sound similar like Bangladesh and some confusions may arrive in the international arena over Bangla and Bangladesh. Since Bangladesh shares a cordial relationship with India, Home Ministry was advised to seek a response from MEA on the issue.

Background:

In 2016, the West Bengal Assembly passed a resolution to change the name of West Bengal to Bangla in Bengali, Bengal in English and Bangal in Hindi.

Rationale behind renaming:

The state government first proposed the renaming in 2016. West Bengal parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee had then argued for the change saying bureaucrats and politicians from the state often complain that they are asked to speak at the end of every national-level meeting in Delhi. This was because the speakers’ lists at such meeting are prepared according to alphabetical order of the states they represent. If West Bengal gets the new name, it will leapfrog from bottom of the list to the top of the pecking order.

The renaming will help the state appear at the fourth spot after Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Assam in the alphabetic order of the states.

The procedure of renaming of the state can be initiated by either the Parliament or the State Legislator and the procedure is as follows:

  • The renaming of a state requires Parliamentary approval under Article 3 and 4 of the Constitution.
  • A bill for renaming a state may be introduced in the Parliament on the recommendation of the President.
  • Before the introduction of the bill, the President shall send the bill to the respective state assembly for expressing their views within a stipulated time. The views of the state assembly are not binding, neither on the President nor on the Parliament.
  • On the expiry of the period, the bill will be sent to the Parliament for deliberation. The bill in order to take the force of a law must be passed by a simple majority.
  • The bill is sent for approval to the President. After the approval of the said bill, the bill becomes a law and the name of the state stands modified.

Initiation by a State:

If any fresh proposal comes from states to the Home Ministry, it will prepare a note for the Union Cabinet for an amendment to the Schedule 1 of the Constitution. Thereafter, a Constitution Amendment Bill will be introduced in Parliament, which has to approve it with a simple majority, before the President gives his assent to it.

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