Rama Krishna Sangem
After buzz over One Nation, One Poll Bill, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led BJP government at the Centre has raised another controversy – replacing India with Bharat in the official invitation from the President to the G-20 heads of governments for their summit in New Delhi on September 9-10. This invitation from Rashtrapathi Bhavan came to light on September 5, Tuesday.
The situation by Tuesday evening went to the level of speculation that there will be a Bill in the special session of Parliament from September 18-22 officially changing the name of the country – from India to Bharat. Some opposition parties leaders especially those from INDIA block attacked PM Modi for getting nervous over their front’s popularity, while some minister of BJP government defended the name change saying there is nothing wrong with it.
By evening it also became clear that as of now, there is no such move to bring in a Bill changing the Constitution’s Article 1 which says: “India, that is Bharat, shall be a union of states and the territory of India consists of that of the states, union territories specified in the First Schedule and other acquired territories. The acquired territories can be converted in a state/states as per Article 2“.
“Only for G-20 invitation purpose”
Some senior ministers and top BJP leaders made it clear that this use of Bharat is limited for the purpose of President’s invitation to the world leaders attending G-20 summit later this week. “When Article 1 of our Constitution clearly says India that is Bharat, where is the controversy? Why cannot the opposition digest the name of Bhaart?” asked Union I&B Minister Anurag Thakuar while talking to a news channel.
The whole controversy is linked to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement two days ago saying India’s name should be changed to Bharat. He said the name India is given by the British and other imperial and colonial powers in the past. “We should move over from that,” he suggested. However, most parties opposed this idea, saying India stands for plurality and diversity of people of the country.
Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin were among those who first responded to India name being replaced by Bharat in the President’s invitation to G-20 leaders for the summit on Saturday and Sunday. “Modi has gone nervous and jealous of our INDIA coalition’s growing popularity,” said she. Stalin too condemned the efforts to change India to Bharat.
Even outside political circles too there is a strong view that the name India is very popular and significant to the entire world and any change at this stage will create confusion for some years together. They say, it serves little purpose to specify any particular name – when already there are two alternatives – India and Bharat – our Constitution itself. It is nothing but narrowing the options. At the same time, we don’t have to be so touchy about the name India.
Some suspect it is BJP’s game plan to push through a nationalist controversy ahead of elections to five states assemblies and Lok Sabha within a few months. Already, CM Stalin’s son and TN minister Udayanidhi’s comments against Sanatan Dharma have triggered protests from Hindu groups. The recent change of names of India Penal Code and Evidence Act to Bharatiya Smritis evoked objections from several sections.