Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar attends a press conference in Goa, India, 05 May 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/DIVYAKANT SOLANKI

Indian foreign minister defends use of name ‘Bharat’ instead of India in official events

New Delhi, Sep 6 (EFE).- Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Wednesday defended the use of the name “Bharat” instead of India in documents and official events, amid widespread speculation that the Asian country might be planning to change its official name.

“Look, when you say ‘Bharat’ in a sense, a meaning and understanding and a connotation comes with it and that is reflected in our Constitution as well,” Jaishankar told local news agency ANI in an interview.

The minister added that the word ‘Bharat,” which is one of the two official names of India but has so far been mainly used in Hindi, is valid for use in documents and official ceremonies.

The response comes after opposition parties alleged that the government was planning to change the official name of the country, although the authorities have not confirmed this.

The government’s summoning of a special session of the parliament on Sep. 18 has also fueled these speculations, although the agenda has not been revealed.

The rumors began on Tuesday after an official dinner invitation for the G20 leaders’ summit in New Delhi went viral.

“The President of Bharat requests the pleasure of the company of (…),” read the invitation in English, which was welcomed by leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“This gives great satisfaction to the mind. ‘Bharat’ is our introduction; we are proud of it. The President has given priority to ‘Bharat’. This is the biggest statement to come out of the colonial mindset,” Indian education minister Dharmendra Pradhan told reporters later in the day.

Another official document, shared by BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, confirmed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence in the ongoing ASEAN-India summit in Indonesia, while referring to the leader as the “Prime Minister of Bharat.”

The opposition has alleged that the government has taken the step to counter the popularity of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance – abbreviated as I.N.D.I.A. – a coalition formed by 26 parties to challenge the BJP-led government in the 2024 general elections.

In an attempt to put an end to rumors, the head of the largest opposition party Indian National Congress, Sonia Gandhi, wrote to Modi on Wednesday to seeking clarification about the government’s agenda during the special parliamentary session.

“You have convened a special five-day session of the Parliament beginning 18 September 2023. I must point out that this Special Session has been convened without any consultation with other political parties. None of us have any idea of its agenda,” Gandhi said in a letter, widely quoted by the Indian media. EFE