A political controversy has erupted in India surrounding the use of the term "Bharat" in government communications and invitations, just ahead of a special session of Parliament scheduled to start on September 18. The agenda for this session has not yet been disclosed, fueling speculation about its purpose.
The dispute began when a G20 Summit dinner invitation was addressed to the "President of Bharat" instead of the "President of India," drawing criticism from opposition parties. Simultaneously, a government booklet describing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Indonesia referred to him as the "Prime Minister of Bharat."
Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Arunag Thakur dismissed rumors that the special Parliament session aimed to change India's name to Bharat, stating that it is mere speculation. He argued, "I think these are just rumors...anyone who objects to the word Bharat clearly shows the mindset."
Thakur defended the use of "Bharat," citing the President's dinner invitation as an example. He questioned why there is an objection to the name, emphasizing that both "Bharat" and "India" will be used in branding for G20-2023.
The controversy is accentuated by the Constitution's Article 1, which states, "India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States." Given the similarity in dates, starting on September 18, the controversy has led to speculation that the government may present a resolution to change the country's name during the special parliamentary session.
The absence of an official agenda for the session has contributed to these speculations. The move has drawn sharp criticism from the Opposition, particularly the INDIA alliance, which accused the Narendra Modi government of "distorting history and dividing India." Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), questioned whether the ruling party would change the country's name to 'BJP' if the opposition alliance decided to call itself "Bharat."
This controversy underscores the significance of language and nomenclature in Indian politics, sparking discussions about identity, linguistic diversity, and heritage preservation in the country.
Author: Anushka Taraniya
News Writer, MIT ADT University