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Renaming Of India As Bharat Strikes Row, Opposition Accuses Centre Of Political One-Upmanship

When India through President Murmu changed the word “India” to “Bharat” on her G20 invitations to foreign leaders today, it caused a major uproar, with the opposition accusing the ruling BJP of rebranding the country out of political rivalry.

For the first time, the “President of Bharat” rather than the customary “President of India” is issuing official invitations to heads of state for a banquet on September 9 in Delhi.

As the nation gets ready to welcome US President Biden, UK PM Sunak, and other prominent world leaders, this represents a significant change in terminology on the worldwide stage.

The opposition convened a number of meetings amid the commotion over the country’s name change and the potential for the administration to officially approve the change in parliament during the five-day special session starting on September 18. Leaders denied reports that the opposition would skip the session.

In response to shock and outrage, BJP officials claimed that the word “Bharat” appears in Article 1 of the Constitution, which states: “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”

The government’s action was attributed by opposition parties to INDIA, or the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, the name of their front against the BJP in 2024. At the residence of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, INDIA group leaders met to discuss tactics.

The opposition alliance’s use of the acronym INDIA in July stoked the dispute over India vs Bharat.

Leaders of the BJP hailed the “Bharat” moniker.

“This 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,” said Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi, questioned whether the administration would rename the nation if the opposition alliance changed “Bharat” from INDIA.

“Why is this happening? It is being said that this is being done because we have formed an alliance named INDIA… The country belongs to 140 crore people and not to one party. If INDIA alliance rechristens itself Bharat, will they change the name of Bharat also?” said the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief.

Mr Kejriwal said the BJP was resorting to such moves out of fear of losing power.

RJD leader Manoj Jha said: “…It has just been a few weeks since we named our alliance as INDIA and BJP has started sending invitations with ‘Republic of Bharat’ instead of ‘Republic of India’. Article 1 of the Constitution reads ‘India that is Bharat’. Neither you will be able to take India from us nor Bharat.”

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said it would be “foolish” to completely drop the name “India”.

Just two days after the BJP’s ideological guru, the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), urged that the nation abandon India and adopt Bharat, controversy has broken out.

The invitation from the president is not unique. The word “Bharat” was also used in a G20 pamphlet titled “Bharat, The Mother Of Democracy” that was intended for foreign delegates.

“We must stop using the word India and start using Bharat. At times we use India to make those who speak English understand. This comes as the flow. However, we must stop using this…The name of the country Bharat will remain Bharat wherever you go in the world. In spoken and written one must say Bharat,” said RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.

“Bharat is the nation’s official name. The Constitution and the talks from 1946 to 1948 both reference it, the brochure claims.

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