Other States

Bangla or Banga? Mamata holds impromptu referendum at public rally

West Bengal witnessed an unique voice referendum on Friday when Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked the supporters of her party’s students wing to choose between Bangla or Banga as the State’s new name at a public rally. The Trinamool supporters selected Bangla over Banga in an unanimous voice vote, only days before Bengal Assembly is expected to hold a special session to discuss the renaming.

“This [voice vote] has become a mass vote of the students. So you are in favour of Banglar maati Banglar jol (lyrics of a popular Tagore song written to oppose first partition of Bengal in 1905). So let Bangla be the world’s best,” Ms. Banerjee said, drawing huge applause from the crowd. The Chief Minister set aside concerns among certain quarters that the name Bangla may add to some confusion as there is a separate country, Bangladesh.

“Some may say that Bangladesh is a country next to us and we are calling us Bangla. Tell me my journalist friends... isn’t there a place called Punjab in Pakistan. We also have Punjab State [in India]. But is there any confusion? So there is no reason for any opposition to this by our friends from the BJP,” Ms. Banerjee said.

The Chief Minister also sought Kolkata-based Indologist and specialist of Indian epics, Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri's opinion at the rally. Mr. Bhaduri sided with the popular mandate. This was followed by an assurance from the Chief Minister that she will ensure that the new name Bangla is passed by the State Assembly as and when it is convened. Earlier this month the State Cabinet had decided that the name of West Bengal will be changed to Bengal in English and Bangla or Banga, in Bengali.

The Chief Minister also showered largesse on students.

She said that “from three departments of the State government funds will be provided to students union for cultural activities”.

Won’t allow bandh

She also used the opportunity to make the stand of her government clear on the upcoming September 2, 2016 general strike called by several trade unions in the country.

Ms. Banerjee, who had once championed the politics of strike in Bengal, said that her government will not allow any bandh in the State. She went on to say that “compensation will be provided to shopkeepers if they suffer damages during the Bandh”.

Targets Centre and Modi

Continuing her tirade against Centre, Ms. Banerjee touched on the new controversy where her party has alleged BSF of providing training to Narayani Sena, an outfit of Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association that is demanding a separate State of the erstwhile kingdom of Koch kings.

“BSF, those who had come to beat our people at the directions of Delhi during elections, are providing training to Narayani Sena those who are trying to divide the State. Look at their arrogance,” she said.

While she took to the parable of Porus and Alexander to say that a king should treat another king like equals and that hers was also an elected government, she did not refrain from taking direct barbs on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Accusing that the government under Mr. Modi is not allocating funds for several schemes, Ms. Banerjee alleged that the Prime Minister is using state funds to “stitch suits”.

“Will he [Mr. Modi] use the money to stitch suits and get his name in Guinness Book of Records,” she said.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 3:35:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Bangla-or-Banga-Mamata-holds-impromptu-referendum-at-public-rally/article14591285.ece

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