Indian state of West Bengal could soon be known as “Bongo”, following a decision by its cabinet on Tuesday.
Officials there have voiced frustrations at West Bengal being placed last alphabetically in India’s inter-state parliamentary discussions, by which time many legislators have left or lost interest, and also say the name is a relic of India’s British colonial legacy.
“Cabinet decided to change the name of West Bengal, it will be either Bangla or Bongo. In English it will be Bengal,” said Partha Chatterjee, a state minister, following the cabinet meeting.
It comes after Mamata Banerjee, the state’s chief minister, complained last month that West Bengal representatives “get to speak only at the fag end of any function when most of the audience has left”.
“Our madam [Banerjee] is doing so much homework to present the case of West Bengal, but who is there to hear her?” a bureaucrat told India Today.
Supporters of the change also point out that today Bangladesh – the former “East” Bengal – is a separate country anyway, making the prefix “West” largely redundant.
Bengal was divided under the British Raj prior to Partition, when East Bengal joined the nascent Pakistan, and West Bengal became part of India.
East Bengal was renamed East Pakistan in 1956, and became the independent nation of Bangladesh following its civil war with western Pakistan in 1971.
While the state will now be referred to as simply “Bengal” in English, its official name in Bengali will be either Bangla or Bongo.
Bongo is a term for the region derived from the Bengali language.
It has no connection to the racist pejorative term “Bongo Bongo land”, which Ukip’s MEP Godfrey Bloom was heavily condemned for usingwhile discussing Britain’s foreign aid spending on poor countries in 2013.
West Bengal has already changed the name of its capital city from Calcutta to Kolkata. The name change will be sent to India’s national parliament after a special state assembly session