External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has backed the usage of "President of Bharat" instead of "President of India" in an invitation to foreign leaders for a G20 dinner, amid speculation over whether the Modi government is inching forward to change the country's name.
Speaking to ANI, Jaishankar said, "India that is Bharat, it is there in the Constitution. Please, I would invite everybody to read it."
"Look when you say Bharat in a sense, a meaning and understanding and a connotation that comes with it and that is reflected in our Constitution as well," he added.
'President of Bharat' in G20 invitation
"President of Bharat" instead of the traditional use of "President of India" in an invitation to foreign leaders for a G20 dinner has triggered speculation over whether the Modi government is mulling a change in the country's name officially.
A letter from President Droupadi Murmu starts with "The President of Bharat requests..."
This is the first time the word "Bharat" is used instead of "India" in an official invitation.
"Bharat" has also reportedly been used in a G20 booklet which has been handed over to foreign delegates. The title of the booklet has been kept "Bharat, The Mother of Democracy".
Amid the new change in India's projection at the international level, officials argued "Bharat" is also in the Constitution whose Article 1 reads, "India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States".
The move comes weeks after over 20 opposition parties, who are opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), formed a bloc named INDIA or Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, eyeing the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
The bloc is hellbent on ousting Modi from power after his two terms. It is assumed that the name INDIA is meant to counter the nationalist agenda put forward by BJP at all levels of elections in the country.
BJP lauds 'President of Bharat' move in G20 dinner invitation
Assam Chief Minister and a BJP leader, Himanta Biswa Sarma, tweeted, "REPUBLIC OF BHARAT - happy and proud that our civilisation is marching ahead boldly towards AMRIT KAAL."
Slamming the Congress for objecting to "Bharat", BJP national president Jagat Prakash Nadda tweeted, "Why does the Congress have so much objection to every subject related to the honor and pride of the country? Why do political yatras in the name of Bharat Jodo hate the proclamation of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”?
"It is clear that the Congress has neither respect for the country, nor for the constitution of the country, nor for the constitutional institutions. He just means to praise a particular family. The whole country knows very well the anti-national and anti-constitutional intentions of the Congress."
Opposition reacts to 'President of Bharat' usage at G20 dinner invite
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted, "So the news is indeed true. Rashtrapati Bhawan has sent out an invite for a G20 dinner on Sept 9th in the name of '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."
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin tweeted, "After Non-BJP forces united to dethrone the fascist BJP regime and aptly named their alliance #INDIA, now the BJP wants to change 'India' for 'Bharat.'
"BJP promised to TRANSFORM India, but all we got is a name change after 9 years! Seems like the BJP is rattled by a single term called India because they recognise the strength of unity within the opposition. During the elections, 'India' will chase BJP out of power!"
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, "We already call India as Bharat. This is nothing new. But the name India is globally known. What has suddenly happened that India's name needed to be changed?... They (BJP govt) are changing history."