G20 invite fuels speculation about legislation to rename India as Bharat | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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G20 invite fuels speculation about legislation to rename India as Bharat

Sep 05, 2023 03:00 PM IST

There was no official confirmation of the legislation

The Union government could introduce a bill during the special session of Parliament from September 18-22 to officially rename India as Bharat. The speculation about this was fuelled amid reports that Rashtrapati Bhawan has sent an invite for a G20 dinner on September 9 in the name of “President of Bharat” instead of the usual “President of India”.

The special session of Parliament will be held from September 18-22. (PTI)
The special session of Parliament will be held from September 18-22. (PTI)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament Parvesh Verma has also prepared a private member’s bill seeking to amend the Constitution’s preamble to remove the word India even as lawmakers have been informed that there will be no private members’ day or zero or question hours during the special session.

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There was no official confirmation of the introduction of the renaming bill even as the Opposition Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc constituents linked the reference to the Bharat in the G20 invite to the BJP’s nervousness over the formidable challenge they pose to the ruling party.

HT has reached out to officials over the speculation and the copy will be updated accordingly. The government has not confirmed the agenda of the special Parliament session.

On Thursday last, the government announced the special session and triggered speculation that it has been convened for a Uniform Civil Code legislation, the celebration of India’s G20 presidency, and the new Parliament building, etc.

BJP’s ideological fount, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has been pushing for the change in name from India to Bharat. It uses Bharat in its communication.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rashtrapati Bhawan’s invite for the G20 dinner on September 9 in the name of “President of Bharat” instead of the usual “President of India”. In a post on X, he cited the Constitution’s Article 1 that “Bharat, that is India, shall be a Union of States” and added now even this “Union of States” is under assault.

He said Modi can continue to distort history and divide India, that is Bharat, that is a Union of States. He added that they will not be deterred. “After all, what is the objective of INDIA parties? It is BHARAT—Bring Harmony, Amity, Reconciliation And Trust. Judega BHARAT Jeetega INDIA!”

His reference was to the INDIA bloc, which on Friday announced the launch of a joint campaign of its constituents themed “Judega Bharat, Jiteega India [India will unite and win]”.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal asked the BJP whether it would change the name of Bharat if the opposition alliance INDIA renamed itself Bharat.

“There is no official information about it but I have heard rumours. Why is this happening? Some parties have come together to form the INDIA bloc. If the INDIA alliance changes its name to Bharat, will they rename Bharat?” Kejriwal said. “This is treason.”

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Manoj Jha said the BJP is jittery because of the INDIA alliance. “We did not know the BJP would be so jittery... It has been only a few weeks since this INDIA alliance was formed and you are bringing a resolution to change the ‘Republic of India’ to the ‘Republic of Bharat’,” Jha said.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat last week again suggested the use of Bharat instead of India. “The name of our country has been Bharat for ages ... .Whatever maybe the language, the name remains the same,” Bhagwat said at an event in Guwahati.

Verma cited Puranas and said the country was named Bharatavarsha after Bharat Chakravarti, the son of Lord Rishabhdev. “India and Bharat sound totally different in Hindi and English. It should sound the same as America, Japan, and so on. 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.”

Verma’s bill says the name Bharat has been widely recognised internationally as an alternate name for India. “By officially adopting ‘Bharat’ as the formal name of our nation, we will establish a unified identity in global forums, promoting India’s cultural and historical heritage on the international stage. Renaming India as ‘Bharat’ will reinforce our cultural identity, foster national unity, and project a more authentic representation of our country’s rich heritage on the global stage.” It adds this move will align with the aspirations of the citizens seeking to embrace and “celebrate our cultural roots.”

Amid the row over the invite, BJP Member of Parliament Harnath Singh Yadav called the usage of India colonial. He said the kind of inspiration and devotion the word Bharat invokes, India can never do. “India is an abuse that the British used for us. They used the word to refer to anyone who they thought were uncouth, fools and criminals.”

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