Speculations are rife over the possible renaming of India as Bharat, after the invite sent to the guests of the G20 Summit read the ‘President of Bharat’ as the host.
This is the first occasion that the term ‘President of Bharat’ has been used on an official invite. The traditional nomenclature has been ‘President of India’.
The term Bharat has also been used in G20 booklets distributed to foreign delegates to point to India’s democratic ethos.
The booklet states, “In Bharat that is India, taking the consent of the people in governance has been part of life since earliest recorded history.”
“Bharat is the official name of the country,” the booklet adds.
The move was hailed by several BJP leaders, who saw it as a freedom from a name that was a symbol of English slavery.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma hailed the Republic of Bharat. “REPUBLIC OF BHARAT – happy and proud that our civilisation is marching ahead boldly towards AMRIT KAAL,” he said in a tweet.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat has voiced his support for this change. Bhagwat has urged citizens to use the term “Bharat” instead of “India”, emphasising that the country has been known as Bharat for centuries.
It is being believed that the Narendra Modi-led government is likely to bring a resolution for changing India’s official name to ‘Bharat’ during the special session of Parliament, scheduled from September 18-22.
Sources said the Modi government is planning to remove the word India from the Constitution.
Mitesh Patel, BJP MP from Anand in Gujarat, speaking in the Lok Sabha in December, queried about renaming India as “Bharat” or “Bharatvarsh” as deliberated by the Constituent Assembly in September 1949. Patel claimed the name “India” signifies the “slavery that the country was subjected to” as it was given by the British East India Company.
BJP MP Harnath Singh Yadav has also called for a constitutional amendment to change “India” to “Bharat”.
Amitabh tweeted, “Bharat mata ki jai (Hail mother Bharat),” in Hindi. He also added a Tricolour emoji and a red flag emoji to his tweet. The tweet got 7,000 likes in just 30 minutes. While many reacted to his post in support, some also asked why he had made such a tweet.
Also , Cricketer Virender Sehwag tweeted that “In the 1996 World Cup ,Netherlands came to play in the World cup in Bharat as Holland. In 2003 when we met them, they were the Netherlands & continue to be so. Burma have changed the name given by the British back to Myanmar. And many others have gone back to their original name”
The Rashtrapati Bhawan invite has, however, elicited strong response from the opposition parties, who are seeing it as an attempt by the Modi government to distort the Constitution.
Incidentally, the new opposition bloc is named INDIA, as an alternative to the Modi-led NDA government at the Centre in the 2024 general elections.
Opposition leaders said the ruling BJP is worried about the INDIA alliance and none could take away India and Bharat from their hearts.
While AAP’s Raghav Chaddha said, “Our national identity is not the BJP’s personal property that it can modify on whims and fancies,” his party chief Arvind Kejriwal quipped, “Will ‘Bharat’ be also changed if the opposition bloc changes its name from INDIA to Bharat?”
Senior Congress leaders Shahi Tharoor and Jairam Ramesh also rebutted the government’s intention. While Tharoor reminded of the ‘ incalculable brand value of India’ built up through centuries, Ramesh tweeted, “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.”
Meanwhile, Congress’ Karti Chidambaram asked if everyone would need new passports now.
Surprisingly, back in 2015, the BJP-led Union government under PM Modi had told the Supreme Court that the country did not have to be called Bharat instead of India.