The State Government is caught between a rock and a hard place on renaming Bangalore. The reason: the proposal for renaming the city as Bengaluru was bundled along with that for renaming 12 other cities and towns in the State, including Belgaum.

Belgaum has become a sticking point as the Marathi-speaking people of that city have opposed renaming it as Belagavi.

The State Government fears that if it yields, it will be seen as capitulating to Maharashtra. This indecision has effectively blocked the renaming of the other cities and towns.

The State finds itself in a fix as it can neither withdraw its proposal nor go ahead with the renaming. Consequently, the six-year-old proposal is in limbo.

According to State Government sources, the Centre is withholding permission to rename Belgaum because of the sensitivities of the Marathi-speaking people.

The former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, at the Vishwa Kannada Sammelan this March, blamed the Centre for the delay. But, in fact, the Centre had permitted the name changes in 2009 itself, with the only exception being Belgaum.

In 2005, the former Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh decided to rename 13 cities, including Bangalore (to Bengaluru), Mysore (Mysuru), Mangalore (Mangaluru), Hubli (Hubballi), Bijapur (Vijapura) and Gulbarga (Kalburgi), to mark the State's golden jubilee (Suvarna Karnataka) celebrations.

This followed a suggestion by Jnanpith Award-winner U.R. Ananthamurthy.

In 2008, the Karnataka High Court issued notice to the Centre regarding a petition challenging the Government's decision to change the name of Belgaum to Belagavi. M.V. Chavan and others from Belgaum contended that the change of name would affect the culture and sentiments of the Marathi people, and was politically motivated.

Following this, the Centre gave permission to rename the other 12 cities and towns.

Spell it, please

Until now, there was no consensus even over the spelling: whether it should be Bengalooru or Bengaluru. While one section vociferously favours Bengaluru, another section argues for Bengalooru. “Linguists should take a final call on the issue,” said writer Baragur Ramachandrappa. “The name should harmonise with the native character of the language,” he added.