NEW DELHI: Invitations for a G20 dinner have been sent out by President Droupadi Murmu describing her position as ‘President of Bharat’ instead of the customary ‘President of India’, triggering a massive furore on Tuesday with the opposition alleging that the Modi government is planning to drop India and stay with just Bharat as the country’s name. Confirming that Bharat has been used as the name of the country in some of the documents relating to G20, sources said it was a conscious decision.
“Bharat is the official name of the country. It is mentioned in the constitution as also in the discussions of 1946-48,” a booklet prepared for G20 delegates said.
The booklet titled ‘Bharat The Mother of Democracy’ also said, “In Bharat that is India, taking the consent of the people in governance has been part of life since earliest recorded history.” As Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Giriraj Singh shared on X their respective G20 dinner invitations from Murmu for Saturday at Bharat Mandapam, the venue for the G20 summit of world leaders, the Congress alleged that the government was trying to destroy history.
Senior BJP leaders and ministers also cheered the move by Rashtrapati Bhavan with Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar asking what is the problem with using ‘President of Bharat’ as our country is also Bharat. The move also further fuelled the speculation that the issue of changing the name of the country could come up during the five-day special session of Parliament beginning September 18.
As no specific agenda has been announced yet for the Parliament session, speculations regarding its agenda ranging from simultaneous polls to women’s reservation bill are doing the rounds. The invitation, which was widely shared on social media, led to a storm of reactions with the opposition alleging that the move was reflective of the BJP being scared of the INDIA bloc and the ruling party asserting that there was nothing wrong in using Bharat as it is part of the Constitution.
Several opposition leaders shared Article 1 of the Constitution which states that “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States” and also the provision that refers to the country’s president as “President of India”. Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a post on X, “So the news is indeed true. Rashtrapati Bhawan has sent out an invite for a G20 dinner on Sept 9th in the name of ‘President of Bharat’ instead of the usual ‘President of India’.” “Now, Article 1 in the Constitution can read: Bharat, that was India, shall be a Union of States. But now even this Union of States is under assault,” Ramesh alleged.
In another post, he said the BJP was the one that had come up with the ‘India Shining’ campaign to which the Congress’ response was ‘Aam Aadmi ko Kya Mila’. “Also remember that it was the BJP that came up with Digital India, Start-Up India, New India, and so on to which the Congress’ response was the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the first anniversary of whose launch is day after tomorrow,” he said.
In another post, Ramesh said, “Mr. Modi can continue to distort history and divide India, that is Bharat, that is a Union of States. But we will not be deterred.” West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee said, “We all know India is Bharat, but the world knows us as India.” What changed suddenly that we should use only Bharat, she asked.
Her Tamil Nadu counterpart M K Stalin also lashed out at the government over the issue, saying that after “non-BJP forces united to dethrone the fascist BJP regime” and aptly named their alliance INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance), now the BJP wants to change ‘India’ for ‘Bharat.’ “BJP promised to TRANSFORM India, but all we got is a name change after 9 years! Seems like the BJP is rattled by a single term called India because they recognise the strength of unity within the opposition. During the elections, ‘India’ will chase BJP out of power!” Stalin said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asked whether the BJP would change the name of Bharat if the opposition alliance INDIA rechristens itself Bharat.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar said no one has the right to change the country’s name. The BJP reacted with delight to a G20 dinner invitation that described Droupadi Murmu as “President of Bharat”, saying the use of the Hindi name for the country underscores its “civilisation march”, and rejected the opposition’s objections to it.
“Congress looks at everything as tinkering. Sometimes they will talk about eradicating ‘Sanatan Dharma’. I don’t see there is any problem. If we won’t use the name of Bharat as Bharat then what else,” Chandrasekhar said. Sharing a picture of his invite, Pradhan used the hashtag ‘#PresidentOfBharat’ and said, “Jana Gana Mana Adhinayak Jaya He, Bharat Bhagya Vidhata”.
Besides the first line of the national anthem, the post in Hindi also used the words “Jai Ho”. BJP general secretary Tarun Chugh slammed the opposition, saying sometimes they have a problem with Vande Mataram and other times they have an issue with nationalism. “Bharat word is not new. It has been used since ancient times. Bharat Mata and Vande Mataram are in our blood and nothing will happen by your opposition. Bharat word is mentioned in the Constitution. New Khiljis and new Mughals have come who want to remove Bharat,” he said.
In a post on X, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “REPUBLIC OF BHARAT – happy and proud that our civilisation is marching ahead boldly towards AMRIT KAAL.” Hitting out at Congress’ criticism, he said in another post, “Now my apprehension has proven to be true. The Congress party seems to have a strong aversion towards Bharat. It appears that the name ‘I.N.D.I alliance’ was intentionally chosen with the aim of defeating BHARAT.” The opposition also claimed that it was reflective of the BJP’s “jitteriness” over the INDIA bloc.
The Vishva Hindu Parishad hailed the use of the word ‘Bharat’ in President Droupadi Murmu’s G20 dinner invitation and said “Let’s forget the word INDIA”. The row over the issue erupted four days after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat made a strong pitch for the use of the word ‘Bharat’ instead of India.
Addressing an event in Guwahati on September 1, Bhagwat said the country’s name as Bharat has been continuing since ancient times and it must be taken forward. “The name of our country has been Bharat for ages. Whatever may be the language, the name remains the same,” the RSS chief said. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Manoj Jha said the BJP is jittery because of the INDIA alliance.
“We did not know BJP would be so jittery. It has been only a few weeks since this INDIA alliance was formed, you are bringing resolution to change ‘Republic of India’ to the ‘Republic of Bharat’…” Jha said. “Our Constitution very clearly says ‘India that is Bharat’, and our (opposition alliance) tagline says – ‘Judega Bharat, Jitega India’…People will snatch away the power that is enabling you to do this, people love both India and Bharat,” Jha said.
Reacting sharply, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said the BJP was using its majority in Parliament to treat the entire country as its “fiefdom”. “BJPs aversion to India’s foundational principle of unity in diversity has touched a new low. By reducing India’s many names from Hindustan and India to now only Bharat shows its pettiness and intolerance,” she posted on X. Congress general secretary K C Venugopal charged that the BJP’s destructive mind can only think of how to divide people.
“Once again, they are creating a rift between Indians and Bharatiyas. Let’s be clear – we are the same! As Article 1 says – India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States. This is petty politics because they are scared of INDIA,” he said. “Try what you will, Modi ji. Judega Bharat, Jeetega INDIA!” Venugopal said in a post on X.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said while there is no constitutional objection to calling India ‘Bharat’, he hopes the government will not be so foolish as to completely dispense with ‘India’ which has incalculable brand value. The Congress, in a post on X, also said, “So scared of INDIA? Is this the Modi government’s hatred for the opposition or the whim of a scared dictator?”