Invitations sent by President Droupadi Murmu to the heads of states and government and the Chief Ministers of Indian States for an official banquet on the occasion of the G-20 Summit in New Delhi created a flutter as the word “India” was replaced with “Bharat”.
Instead of the usual “President of India”, the invitation cards said “President of Bharat”.
The Opposition questioned the reason for the change, while Ministers and leaders of the ruling party welcomed the move.
Government sources told The Hindu that the word “Bharat” will be used more and more in the coming months for official communication. BJP national secretary Sambit Patra posted on X (formerly Twitter) the cover of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s function notes for his visit to Indonesia for the ASEAN-India Summit which refer to him as “Prime Minister of Bharat”.
Opposition leaders alleged that the shift to the name “Bharat”, instead of India in communication, was a way to prevent the INDIA bloc from being identified with the country’s name.
Government sources told that all talk of a formal action in the Special Session of Parliament to change the name of India was “rubbish”.
“It is clearly stated in the Constitution that ‘India, that is Bharat, is a Union of states’ so where is there any need for any change,” a senior Union Minister said. “The INDIA bloc of parties have tried to reduce the identity of the country to their alliance, which is not good, and therefore the use of the name ‘Bharat’ both as a decolonising nomenclature and to bring the name of the country out of this reductive exercise was required,” the Minister said.
Though taking a nuanced position that the names “India” and “Bharat” were both mentioned in the Constitution, the Congress accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of resorting to politics of “divide”. “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,” Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a post on X.
Congress Deputy Leader in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi said, “We accept both ‘India’ and ‘Bharat’ names and feel proud on them. The ‘I’ in ISRO is India, the ‘I’ in IITs is India, the ‘I’ in IIMs is India, the ‘I’ in IPS is India.The BJP’s politics has stooped so low because they are afraid of the INDIA alliance.”.
BJP leaders hailed the change of name in official communication. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was one of the first to react, posting on X: “REPUBLIC OF BHARAT – happy and proud that our civilisation is marching ahead boldly towards AMRIT KAAL.”
Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the move should have happened “earlier”. “This gives great satisfaction to the mind.‘Bharat’ is our introduction. We are proud of it. The President has given priority to ‘Bharat’. This is the biggest statement to come out of the colonial mindset,” he said.