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Mamata Banerjee’s evolving Bengali pride pitch: From ‘Ma, Mati, Manush’ to ‘Paschim Banga Dibas’ | Political Pulse News

During the Trinamool Congress’s (TMC) tenure at the helm of West Bengal, its politics has been animated by an undercurrent of Bengali pride. From the celebration of icons of Bengal to Mamata Banerjee’s slogan of “Ma, Mati, Manush (Mother, Soil, People)” to employing the “insider versus outsider” binary ahead of the Assembly elections in 2021, the ruling party in Bengal has often invoked Bengali pride to counter the Hindutva-nationalist project of its principal rival BJP.

As the second half of the Assembly’s Monsoon Session begins Tuesday, the TMC will table a motion to observe April 15, the first day of the Bengali new year (Poila Boisakh), as “Paschim Banga Dibas”. The party also plans to introduce a proposal for deciding a “state anthem” shortly, according to TMC leaders.

The Mamata government’s decision to celebrate April 15 as the state’s foundation day comes a couple of months after it locked horns with the Raj Bhavan over the latter’s decision to observe June 20 as the state’s foundation day. The Raj Bhavan’s move came a year after the BJP raised the demand. The TMC argues that June 20 is a day of sorrow and bloodshed for the people of the state as it marks the partition of Bengal into West Bengal and East Pakistan (later, Bangladesh) and should not be celebrated. On June 20, 1947, the Bengal Assembly saw two separate meetings of its legislators. One set voted to stay in India and the other decided to go with Pakistan.

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At the time, Banerjee wrote a letter to the Governor, saying, “The state was not founded on any particular day, least of all on June 20. Contrarily, the state was formed through the infamous Radcliffe Award, which was given legitimacy by the departing colonial / imperial government … Since Independence, we in West Bengal have never commemorated or celebrated any day as the Foundation Day of West Bengal. Rather, we have seen the Partition as a result of the unleashing of communal forces that could not be resisted at that point of time.”

TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh accused the Governor of “destroying Bengali traditions” and “insulting the history and people of Bengal”. While the CPI(M) also saw the development as a “distortion of history” and blamed “the BJP’s politics”, Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP said there was nothing wrong with celebrating June 20.

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Earlier this month, the West Bengal government faced criticism over the proposed three-language policy in state-run schools. The government, in its state education policy, said the three-language formula was not about making Bengali mandatory and no language would be imposed. Students, Education Minister Bratya Basu explained, would be free to choose their first language while their second and third language would depend on the “population pattern” and “ethnic profile” of the people living in a particular region.

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