Fed up with having to speak last, or not at all, at meetings of Indian regional leaders, the chief minister of West Bengal wants to ditch the state’s first name so that she can get her say.
Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet approved a resolution on Tuesday to call the state, actually located in eastern India, “Bengal” in English – one of India’s official languages.
State lawmakers would also get to choose between the Bengali names “Bangla” or “Bonga”, said state minister Partha Chatterjee.
The feisty Banerjee, 61, had complained that she barely got a chance to speak in meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi because West Bengal came at the end of a list of India’s 29 states arranged alphabetically.
An earlier initiative to rename the state Paschim Banga – or West Bengal in the vernacular – would have moved it only about a quarter of the way up the list. But it was never approved by the New Delhi government.
State capital Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, was once the headquarters of the British East India Company. But a decision to relocate the capital of imperial India to Delhi in 1911 ushered in a period of relative decline.
Independence and partition in 1947 then led to the division of the province of Bengal into predominantly Hindu West Bengal and mostly Muslim East Bengal, which is now part of Bangladesh.