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‘Prime Minister of Bharat’: BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra’s X post fuels name-change fire

The BJP, on the other hand, welcomed the move and hit out at the opposition bloc I.N.D.I.A for being averse to 'Bharat'.

September 6, 2023 4:47 pm

Indian PM Narendra Modi
Indian PM Narendra Modi

New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Sambit Patra on Tuesday shared a picture on social media platform X, which addressed Prime Minister Narendra Modi as ‘The Prime Minister Of Bharat’.

The picture shared on X pertains to Modi’s participation in the 20th ASEAN-India Summit and 18th EAS Summit in Indonesia on September 7. Patra’s post comes in wake of the speculation around the Centre bringing out a legislation in the upcoming special session of parliament to rename India as Bharat.

Earlier in the day, the Congress and other opposition parties alleged that the G20 dinner invite sent by Rashtrapati Bhawan had ‘President of Bharat’ instead of ‘President of India’ written over it.

The BJP, on the other hand, welcomed the move and hit out at the opposition bloc I.N.D.I.A for being averse to ‘Bharat’.

“Who is opposing the name Bharat? Now have you even started feeling the pain at the mention of Bharat? These are the same people who put party before the nation and are stuck in the quicksand of politics. They also have attempted to malign the country from foreign soil”, Union minister Anurag Thakur was quoted by PTI as saying.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma accused the opposition of trying to eliminate the Hindu religion and name ‘Bharat’.

“Bharat is as old as the sun and the moon. As long as the sun and the moon are in existence, Bharat will continue be in existence… Every state and its people want that the country be know as Bharat”, Sarma said.

Though there was no official confirmation, some speculated that changing the name of the country to Bharat could well be the reason for a special five-day session of Parliament to be called beginning September 18, the 74th anniversary of the day when the Constituent Assembly adopted Article 1.

Experts also pointed out that Article 52 of the Constitution says, “There shall be a President of India,” with no mention of Bharat.

The jury was still out on whether (if the government wants to go ahead with the move) it can be achieved through a simple resolution, given that Article 1 uses both names, or it requires a constitutional amendment.

“That change has to be brought about by an amendment in the Constitution, otherwise India’s name is India only. India that is Bharat written in Article 1 is only descriptive, it is not that these two are interchangeable. It will be suicidal to use them interchangeably. There is only one name for one country,” said constitutional expert PDT Achary.

The row came four days after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat made a strong pitch for using Bharat instead of India.

BJP Lok Sabha member Parvesh Verma said he was, in any case, going to bring a private member’s bill in the next session — the special session has no time demarcated for private member’s bill — seeking to amend the Constitution’s preamble to remove the word India.

In the bill, which HT has seen, Verma cited Puranas and said the country was named Bharatavarsha after Bharat Chakravarti, the son of Lord Rishabhdev. “Bharat matches more with the history and culture of our great nation,” said Verma, denying his initiative has anything to do with the Opposition INDIA bloc. “I prepared it much before that announcement and will be introducing it in the next session.”

In June 2020, the Supreme Court sent a petition seeking renaming of India as Bharat for the Centre’s consideration.”Bharat and India are both names given in the Constitution. India is already called Bharat in the Constitution,” then Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde orally said in that hearing. The petitioner, Namah, a Delhi resident, said in his plea that the word Bharat instilled national pride while India is of Greek origin. The petitioner sought an amendment to the Constitution and referred to the Constituent assembly debates that made a strong pitch for the adoption of Bharat and not India.

On social media, the move also sparked other questions: What Will India’s new top level domain (currently it is .in) be if it changes its name? Will the IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) and the IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) have to change their name? What of institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India, organisations such as the Indian Space Research Organisation, or commercial entities such as the State Bank of India? What would happen to the passport, which mentions the Republic of India on the cover? Or would both names now be used interchangeably?

There were also questions on the impact of the change, if it happens, south of the Vindhyas, given the Hindi association of the name, although India is already called Bharatam in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam.”It is an attempt to impose a language on the entire country,” said Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

‘Will require several amendments in Constitution’

Constitutional expert PDT Achary has told PTI that any change in name from Republic of India will require several amendments. The former Lok Sabha secretary general said, “They will have to amend the Constitution. Article 1 (will have to be changed) and then there will be resultant changes in all the other articles.”

“Wherever India is used will have to go. You can have only one name for the country. There cannot be two names interchangeable, that will create a lot of confusion not only in India but outside also,” he told PTI.

India vs Bharat row: Who says what


West Bengal chief minister supremo Mamata Banerjee criticised the move. “We all know India is Bharat, but the world knows us as India. What changed suddenly that we should use only Bharat?” she asked.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal asked whether the BJP would change the name of Bharat if the opposition alliance — Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance or INDIA — rechristened itself Bharat. A Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) lawmaker even said that work had already begun to change the alliance’s name to BHARAT — Bring Harmony, Reconciliation, And Trust.

The BJP dismissed the Opposition’s objections and said the use of the Hindi name underscored its civilisation march.

“Congress looks at everything as tinkering… I don’t see any problem. If we won’t use the name of Bharat as Bharat, then what else,” Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said.

In a post on X, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma — who had commented to the INDIA grouping’s name hours after it was announced in July — attacked the Congress. “The Congress seems to have a strong aversion towards Bharat. It appears that the name INDIA was intentionally chosen with the aim of defeating BHARAT,” he said.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar said no one has there will be deliberation on the issue in a meeting convened on Wednesday by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge with chiefs of the parties which are part of the INDIA alliance.

“I don’t understand why the rulling party is perturbed over a name related to the country,” the NCP chief told reporters.

Asked whether the name of India will be changed in the Constitution, Pawar said, “I don’t have any information on it.

Actor Amitabh Bachchan’s latest tweet caught the attention of fans. On Tuesday, taking to X, the actor wrote in Hindi: “Bharat Mata Ki Jai.” As his tweet came shortly after the India-Bharat row broke, it seems like Big B has just showcased his support in favour of India’s name change.

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