West Bengal’s opposition parties CPI-M and the Congress on Thursday demanded the setting up of a commission and a public debate on rechristening the state, while the Bharatiya Janata Party said there was no need to change the name.
"Yes, there is nothing wrong in changing the name of the state. In the past, the assembly had twice passed proposals and sent them to the centre, but without success.
"We think the matter needs to be publicly discussed and debated. Such vital decisions cannot be taken in cabinet meetings held in air-conditioned chambers," said Communist Party of India-Marxist legislature party leader Sujon Chakraborty.
Leader of the opposition Abdul Mannan said a commission should be set up to finalise a name.
"Let the Commission take the final decision on a new name, because in the past the assembly had sent two different names," said the Congress legislator after an all-party meeting at the chamber of the Speaker Biman Bandopadhyay to finalise the agenda of a special session of the House convened in the last week of the month.
The name change issue would be the main point of discussion at the three-day meeting of the assembly convened on August 26, 29 and 30.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh, however, said his party would continue to oppose any change of name.
"We have been opposed to any change of name from the outset, and we stick to our stand. The opinion and sensitivity of the nine crore plus people of Bengal have not been sought," said Ghosh, who leads the three-member BJP legislative party.
"They (the government) may bulldoze the bill on the strength of its brute majority. But when the legislation is sent to the centre, it will have the same fate as the two earlier bills."
The speaker told media that besides seeking rechristening of the state’s name, the state government would move a proposal alleging the centre was depriving the state. The opposition parties have said they want discussions on dengue deaths in the state. "If the opposition moves such a proposal, the matter will be taken up".
Chakraborty, however, mocked the state for talking about how the centre was depriving the state.
"Those who are depriving the people, are now talking of the state being deprived. This is a dichotomy".
Echoing Chakraborty, Mannan said: "We will also talk about how the state was being deprived. But can you (the state government) gloss over the way we (the opposition) are being deprived?"
Both Chakraborty and Mannan said the opposition would highlight the state government’s failure to tackle dengue fever during the assembly session, which has "taken the shape of an epidemic".
Seventeen persons have died and over 3400 have been affected by dengue in the state since January.
Earlier this month, the cabinet mooted a proposal to rename the state as "Bengal" in English and ‘Banga’ or Bangla in Bengali.
In Bengali, the state is currently referred to as "Paschim Banga" or "Paschim Bangla".
After the partition of India in 1947, Bengal was bifurcated as East Bengal and West Bengal. East Bengal became a part of Pakistan. It was rechristened East Pakistan in 1956 and later emerged as the independent nation of Bangladesh after the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971.