“I think these are just rumours which are taking place," Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur said on Tuesday, 6 September, amid the political slugfest that was triggered by a G20 dinner invite which purportedly referred to President Murmu as 'President of Bharat' instead of President of India.
Specifically, Thakur was responding to a question posed by The Indian Express on whether the upcoming special session has been called to officially rename India as Bharat.
"All I want to say is that anyone who objects to the word Bharat clearly shows the mindset," the BJP leader added.
“Now, Article 1 in the Constitution can read: ‘Bharat, that was India, shall be a Union of States," tweeted Congress leader Jairam Ramesh soon after the G20 dinner invite surfaced online on Tuesday, 5 September.
Prior to Thakur's half-clarification, various Opposition leaders questioned the 'President of Bharat' invite even as BJP leaders strongly rallied behind the use of 'Bharat'. Here's what each side said.
'What If We Change Alliance Name?': Opposition Leaders
"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 (sic)," Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted.
Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal asked, "What will they (government) do if we change INDIA (alliance) name to Bharat?"
“I have not read or received any official information but heard from here and there that BJP wants to rename India as Bharat. The country is of 140 crore people, it does not belong to any one party. Just because some parties came together and formed an alliance and named it INDIA, you want to rename the country?" Kejriwal said.
"Let’s say, if the INDIA alliance holds a meeting and decides to rename it to Bharat, will they change the name again? Will they then name Bharat as BJP… The country belongs to 140 crore people, this is not a joke," the Delhi chief minister added.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK leader MK Stalin said that "INDIA will chase BJP out of power!"
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Manoj Jha said, "It has just been a few weeks since we named our alliance as INDIA and 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."
While addressing a Teachers' Day event in Kolkata, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee alleged that "history is being rewritten in the country."
“I have heard that in the invitation card for the G20 summit dinner, it is mentioned Bharat in English. We say India and the Indian Constitution and in Hindi we say ‘Bharat ka Samvidhan’. We all say ‘Bharat’. What is new in this? But the name India is known to the world. What happened that they suddenly had to change the name of the country? Any day, we will see them (BJP) change the name of Rabindranath Tagore also. History is being rewritten in the country."West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee
'What's the Problem With Bharat?': BJP Leaders
When questioned about the G20 dinner invite, Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told ANI, "India, that is Bharat – it is there in the Constitution. I would invite everybody to read it...When you say Bharat, in a sense, a meaning and an understanding and a connotation that comes with it and I think that is reflected in our Constitution as well."
Meanwhile, proclaiming India as the "Republic of Bharat", Assam CM said Himanta Biswa Sarma, "Republic of Bharat- happy and proud that our civilisation is marching ahead boldly towards Amrit Kaal."
Attacking Congress, BJP president JP Nadda said, "Congress has no respect for the country, the Constitution, or constitutional institutions."
“Why do those doing political tours in the name of Bharat Jodo hate the slogan of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’? It is clear that Congress has no respect for the country, the Constitution, or constitutional institutions. He is only concerned with praising a particular family. The whole country knows very well the anti-national and anti-constitutional intentions of the Congress,” Nadda tweeted.
Union Minister Meenakashi Lekhi said, "Only those having slave mentality can have a problem and create an issue with the word 'Bharat'."