Two social posts, by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh and Assam Chief Minister Hemanta Biswa, on Tuesday sparked off a political slugfest over the use of “Bharat” instead of “India” in government communication. It has also fuelled speculation that the Centre might amend Article 1 of the Constitution that says “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States”.
Though there is no official word on it, the buzz in political circles was that the word ‘India’, one of the two official names of the country, may be amended in Article 1 during the coming special session of Parliament so that the country’s identification is just by the name “Bharat”.
Jairam Ramesh started the buzz with a post on ‘X’ that Rashtrapati Bhawan had dispatched invites for a G20 dinner on September 9, depicting for the first time Droupadi Murmu as “The President of Bharat” rather than usual nomenclature “President of India” that has been used till now.
The Congress leader 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 the erstwhile Twitter.
BJP Assam CM Himanta Biswa went on social media 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 opens 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.
While the BJP leaders are happy over the move, other opposition leaders have also expressed their strong displeasure. RJD’s Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha said, “It has just been a few weeks since we named our alliance INDIA and BJP has started sending invitations with ‘Republic of Bharat’ instead of ‘Republic of India’…Neither you will be able to take India from us nor Bharat..”