Amid a controversy over G20 dinner invites purportedly sent on behalf of the "President of Bharat", Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asked a "flustered" BJP on Tuesday whether it would change the name of Bharat if the opposition alliance INDIA rechristens itself as "Bharat".
The Congress alleged on Tuesday that an invite sent by the Narendra Modi government for a G20 dinner refers to the president as the "President of Bharat" and not India.
"I have no official information on this. I have heard rumours. Why is this happening? It is being said that this is being done because we have formed an alliance named INDIA. The country belongs to 140 crore people and not to one party. If the INDIA alliance rechristens itself as Bharat, will they change the name of Bharat also?" Kejriwal asked while replying to a question at a press conference in Delhi.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is a constituent of the opposition bloc INDIA.
Kejriwal, who is the national convenor of the AAP, claimed that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre is afraid of the alliance and that is why it is resorting to such changes, which he termed "treason".
"What a joke is this. This is our country. We have an ancient culture," he said.
Kejriwal said the BJP is so disturbed by the opposition alliance that when it was first announced, it tried to divert people's attention from it with its "one nation, one election" proposal.
"Their response to the INDIA alliance shows that they are quite flustered. They released the gimmick of 'one nation, one election' to divert attention. How will it benefit people? How will it benefit you and your family? Will it lead to a reduction in price rise and unemployment?" he asked.
The AAP leader said the BJP wants one election every five years because it has no intention to work for people and that "one nation, one election" is merely a ploy to shirk responsibility.
"There is only one advantage of 'one nation, one election'. At present, they have to go among people and work every six months. Then, they will be seen once in five years. They will wander around the world for five years.
"I predict that if one nation, one election happens, by the next election, the LPG cylinders will be sold at Rs 5,000 and they will offer a Rs 200 subsidy and boast about it. Basically, they do not want to work," he added.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said while there is no constitutional objection to calling India 'Bharat', he hopes the government will not be so "foolish" to completely dispense with 'India' which has "incalculable brand value".
The Congress MP also claimed it was Pakistan's founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah who had objected to the name 'India' since it implied that "our country was the successor state to the British Raj and Pakistan a seceding state".
In a post on X, Tharoor said 'Bharat' is one of the country's two official names.
"While there is no constitutional objection to calling India 'Bharat', which is one of the country's two official names, I hope the government will not be so foolish as to completely dispense with 'India', which has incalculable brand value built up over centuries," the Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram said.
"We should continue to use both words rather than relinquish our claim to a name redolent of history, a name that is recognised around the world," he said.
In another post, Tharoor said, "While the subject is live, let's recall that it was Jinnah who objected to the name 'India' since it implied that our country was the successor state to the British Raj and Pakistan a seceding state. As with CAA, the BJP govt keeps supporting Jinnah's view!"
Addressing a press conference, AAP's Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh cited Article 1 of the Constitution that says "India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of states".
He said the Centre, "by trying to change Article 1 written by Bhimrao Ambedkar, is displaying their hatred".
"IITs, IIMs, ISRO, AIIMS and other government institutions use the word 'India'. From how many names will they remove 'India'? The people of this country, including Dalits, Adivasis and the oppressed class, who have faith in Bhimrao Ambedkar, will not tolerate disrespect to him," he said.
Another AAP leader, Raghav Chadha, echoed similar views and asserted that "our national identity" is not the "BJP's personal property".
"The BJP's recent move to change the reference from 'President of India' to 'President of Bharat' on official G20 summit invitations has raised eyebrows and ignited a public debate. How can the BJP strike down 'INDIA'? The country does not belong to a political party, it belongs to 135 crore Indians. Our national identity is not the BJP's personal property that it can modify on whims and fancies, Judega Bharat Jeetega INDIA," he wrote on X.
Several BJP leaders in the past have raised a demand for changing the name of the country from "India" to "Bharat".
In the recently-concluded monsoon session of Parliament, BJP MP Naresh Bansal had said in the Rajya Sabha that the name "India" is a symbol of "colonial slavery" and should be removed from the Constitution.
In June, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea filed for changing the name of India to Bharat, while allowing it to be treated as a representation before the Union ministries concerned.
Earlier, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat, at a programme in Guwahati, had insisted that people use Bharat instead of India.