The West Bengal assembly made a significant decision by passing a resolution to officially observe Bengali New Year’s Day, known as Poila Baisakh, as the state’s foundation day on April 15th.
This decision comes amid controversy and disagreements over the date chosen for this celebration. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been a strong advocate for this change, emphasizing that the day will be observed irrespective of the approval of the state’s governor.
A Landmark Resolution
The resolution, put forth under Rule 169, proposes the observance of Poila Baisakh as ‘Bangla Diwas’ and seeks to declare Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s masterpiece, ‘Banglar Mati, Banglar Jol‘ (Bengal’s soil, Bengal’s water), as the official state song. This historic decision was passed with a majority vote of 167 members in favor out of a total of 294 members in the House. However, not everyone in the assembly was in agreement.
Opposition from the BJP
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with 62 MLAs in the West Bengal assembly, firmly opposed the resolution. They argue that the state’s foundation day should be celebrated on June 20, a date with historical significance. On that day in 1947, MLAs from West Bengal voted for the partition of Bengal, an event that was celebrated as Bengal Day by some.
Mamata Banerjee’s Resolute Stance
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee remains steadfast in her support for the new foundation day. She emphasized that the People of Bengal don’t support June 20, a date associated with the violence and bloodshed of the partition, as the state’s foundation day. Banerjee had previously expressed her disagreement with the central government’s selection of June 20 as the state’s foundation day, deeming it ‘incorrect.’
West Bengal’s Bold Step in Preserving Cultural Identity
In the face of these differing opinions, West Bengal’s choice to embrace its cultural heritage by observing Poila Baisakh as the state’s foundation day represents a significant step, one that highlights the state’s rich history and its commitment to preserving its cultural identity.