New Delhi: There was high drama on Tuesday (September 5) over the wording of a G20 dinner invitation from the President’s office that described Draupadi Murmu as the “President of Bharat”. This sparked speculation over the scrapping of the name of the country from India, to make it only Bharat.
Article 1(1) of the Indian Constitution begins with the words, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”
As images of the G20 dinner invitation that referred to ‘President of Bharat’ instead of “President of India” were circulated on social media, drawing ire from opposition parties, Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan shared an image of the invitation.
In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Pradhan shared the invitation in his name and wrote the first line of the national anthem in Hindi: “Jana gana mana adhinayaka jaya he, Bharat bhagya vidhata“.
जन गण मन अधिनायक जय हे, भारत भाग्य विधाता
— Dharmendra Pradhan (@dpradhanbjp) September 5, 2023
The invitation shared by Pradhan reads: “President of Bharat requests the pleasure of the company of Dharmendra Pradhan at dinner on Saturday, September 9 at 2000.”
Ever since the block of 27 Opposition parties got together and opted to call themselves INDIA, standing for Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, the BJP has been confused about the pitch it much adopt. Responses have wavered from derision and mockery to Modi on July 18 changing what NDA stood for, saying it now stood for New India, Development Aspiration. A week later, Modi was still thinking and talking about the alliance’s name – going as far as to say that said even Indian Mujahideen and East India Company had India in their name.
Branding experts have said that the alliance’s name, INDIA, had created significant interest.
Pradhan’s tweet came on the heels of speculation surrounding the reference to Murmu as the President of “Bharat” instead of India in the official invitations.
Earlier on Tuesday, Congress MP Jairam Ramesh in a post on X wrote that the Rashtrapati Bhawan has sent out an invite for a G20 dinner on September 9 in the “name of ‘President of Bharat’ instead of the usual ‘President of India’.”
Referring to Article 1, Ramesh said that “Union of States” is under “assault.”
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.”…
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) September 5, 2023
Other members of the opposition including parliamentarians from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Congress, RJD among others also subsequently lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union government, accusing it of acting out of being rattled by the joint opposition INDIA alliance.
‘BJP rattled by the INDIA alliance’
Last week the INDIA alliance of over 26 opposition parties held their third meeting in Mumbai and promised to work on seat sharing formulas to take on the BJP in the 2024 general elections.
Tamil Nadu chief minister M.K. Stalin in a statement said the move comes after the opposition alliance named themselves INDIA and added that while the BJP had promised “transform India, but all we got is a name change after 9 years!”
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…
— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) September 5, 2023
“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!”
Delhi chief minister and AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal also said while addressing a press conference that the move stems from the BJP being “upset with the INDIA alliance”.
“These people are so upset with the INDIA alliance that they will even change the name of the country? If tomorrow we name our alliance “Bharat”, will we change the name “Bharat” as well?”
Also referring to Article 1 of the Indian Constitution, Congress general secretary K.C. Venugopal said that the move was the BJP’s “petty politics because they are scared of INDIA”.
The BJP’s destructive mind can only think of how to divide people. Once again, they are creating a rift between Indians and Bharatiyas.
Let’s be clear – we are the same!
As Article 1 says – India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.
This is petty politics because they…
— K C Venugopal (@kcvenugopalmp) September 5, 2023
“As Article 1 says – India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States. This is petty politics because they are scared of INDIA. Try what you will, Modi ji. Judega Bharat, Jeetega INDIA!” he said.
RJD MP Manoj Jha said that it has just been a few weeks since the opposition alliance has been named INDIA and the “BJP has started sending invitations with ‘Republic of Bharat’ instead of ‘Republic of India’.”
“Article 1 of the Constitution reads ‘India that is Bharat’. Neither you will be able to take India from us nor Bharat.”
No official statement
While Pradhan’s tweet put speculation to rest about the dinner invitations, the entire day witnessed confusion amongst officialdom and even the BJP, with a scramble as no official statement had been made by the Rashtrapati Bhawan or the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), which is coordinating the G20 events.
When asked about the authenticity of the invitation doing the rounds on social media, Rashtrapati Bhawan sources conveyed that G20 events are being coordinated by the MEA and only they can respond on this.
The Wire confirmed that the invitation card is genuine and such wording has been used for the second time. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Greece last month, all protocol material put out referred to the “Prime Minister of Bharat”, it is believed.
The staff said that it has been orally told to use Bharat henceforth.
Baijayant Panda, BJP national vice president wrote, “It doesn’t take rocket science to comprehend this, yet Congress & AAP are opposing a G20 invite by the President of Bharat.”
“We have to wait and see if it will be a part of the Special Session (of Parliament),” said Union minister Rajeev Chandrashekhar to ANI.
Recently, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had said in a speech that we should stop referring to ‘India’ and only speak of ‘Bharat’.
Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi said both Bharat and India were accepted names of the country, yet the BJP was presenting them in opposition to each other. “We accept both ‘India’ and ‘Bharat’ names and feel proud on them. The ‘I’ in ISRO is India, the “I” in IITs is India, the ‘I’ in IIMs is India, the ‘I’ in IPS is India. The BJP’s politics has stooped so low because they are afraid of the INDIA (opposition) alliance,” he said.