Last week, some sane, sober and soft-spoken Bengalis (yeah, there are still a few left) were shocked when they heard about their dear chief minister’s latest antics. Mamata Banerjee had decided to rename six townships in the state. Including the iconic Siliguri and Asansol-Durgapur.
Expectedly, social media was up in arms. Tempers came down only after a clarification that the new names were meant for some smart cities to be developed within the six townships. Still, her choice of names were universally decried for being a little too whimsical.
Garia near Kolkata was rechristened as ‘Uttam City’ after her favourite movie star. And Asansol-Durgapur was re-designated as ‘Agnibina’, a collection of poems from Kazi Nazrul Islam (another chap she admires). People wondered aloud if rosogolla, mishiti doi and sandesh would be her next picks as Mamata is known to have a sweet tooth.
Actually, anyone who’s been tracking Ms Banerjee would know by now that she is an inveterate namer. She began her dalliance with the world of nomenclature in 1988 when she chose Trinamool Congress as her party’s name. ‘Trinamool’ as you know, means ‘the grassroot’. The party slogan ‘Maa, Mati, Manush’ (now spoofed as ‘Money, Madness and Mamata’) was also her creation.
The almost Thuglaq-like attempt to rename West Bengal was her initiative, too. After contemplating on ‘Best Bengal’ (that’s how she pronounces it), she decided to call it Paschim Banga.
Not content with labelling parties and states, the Bengal tigress then went on a rampage by changing the appellation of 18 roads, four railway stations and one university. What irks her critics is not her enthusiasm to upset the apple cart, but her quirkiness in naming places after whatever she likes.
Another thing that gets people’s goat is the total lack of consultation among all stakeholders. Siliguri’s citizens, for example, would any day prefer to be Siliguri than turn into one more Teesta. Unfortunately, no one cared to ask their views. The Didi’s comedy show will last till 2016. Next time around, who knows if the voters might teach her a lesson just for the kick of changing the name of their chief minister.