A G20 dinner invitation for September 9 from the President’s office sparked off a political slugfest on Tuesday over sudden change in Droupadi Murmu’s description as “The President of Bharat” . Usually, opposition parties contended, the country’s highest office is addressed as “President of India”.

The use of “Bharat” instead of “India” as the country’s name in communication further fuelled speculation over scrapping of the name of the country from India, to make it only Bharat. There was discussion across the social media that it would entail amending Article 1 of the Constitution that says “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States”.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh’s posted his comments on social media with an image of the invitation, triggering the controversy early in the day, with BJP Union ministers and party leaders joining in.

Ramesh accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “distorting history and dividing India”. “So, the news in indeed true. Rashtrapati Bhawan has sent out an invite for a G20 dinner on Sept 9th in the name of the ‘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 said on ‘X’, the erstwhile Twitter.

Union HRD Minister Dharmendra Pradhan too tagged a grab of the invitation he got for the G20 dinner and wrote national anthem in Hindi: “Jana gana mana adhinayaka jaya he, Bharat bhagya vidhata“. Before him, BJP Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma responded to hail the “Republic of Bharat”. “REPUBLIC OF BHARAT - happy and proud that our civilisation is marching ahead boldly towards AMRIT KAAL,” he tweeted.

Not just the President’s invite, even the G20 booklet that would be handed over to foreign delegates is titled “Bharat, The Mother Of Democracy”. It reportedly speaks of the richness of democratic tradition in India since ancient times.

The booklet opened with a sentence that interchanges India and Bharat as scripted in Article 1. “In Bharat that is India, taking the consent of the people in governance has been part of life since earliest recorded history,” it narrated.

As the day progressed, the spar intensified more opposition leaders took on the government over assertion to give precedence to Bharat over India in officially addressing the country.

Expressing strong displeasure, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said India is mentioned in the Constitution, passport and other government documents as well. “Vote for India, Make in India, Standup India, Shining India.. There is mention of India on Aadhaar and passport...”We the People of India” is mentioned in the Constitution,” Yadav said. “INDIA alliance’s slogan says ‘Judega India, Jeetega Bharat’. If they have a problem with ‘INDIA’ then they should have a problem with ‘Bharat’ also...These (BJP) people are scared,” he remarked.

However, there was no official response from either the BJP or the government. Unofficially, it was said that there was no move afoot to amend the Constitution in this regard.