Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets members of the press at the international media center after the closing of the G20 Summit at the ITPO Convention Centre Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, India, 10 September 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/RAJAT GUPTA

Indian PM calls all-party meet before parliament session amid speculation on agenda

New Delhi, Sep 13 (EFE).- The government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced a meeting with leaders of all political parties of the country, set to be held on Sunday, a day before a special session of the parliament whose agenda has not been revealed.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi greets members of the media after the closing of G20 Summit in New Delhi, India, 10 September 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/HARISH TYAGI

The invitation was sent to representatives of all parties to gather on Sep. 17, a day before the five-day special session called by the government is set to begin, India’s parliamentary affairs minister said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Last week Joshi had announced the special session, starting Sep. 18, even though details of the agenda remain unknown.

Indian media outlets have speculated on the possible agenda, suggesting sensitive issues such as reforming the civil code, debate on holding simultaneous national and provincial elections and a possible change in the country’s name.

However, the authorities have refused to comment on or confirm these speculations.

“Today is Sep. 13. The five-day special session of Parliament will commence five days from now and nobody – barring One Man (ok, perhaps the Other One too) — has any sense of the agenda,” the general secretary of opposition party Indian National Congress, Jairam Ramesh, said on Wednesday.

He was indirectly referring to Modi and home minister Amit Shah, considered the two most powerful figures of the government, who work in close coordination.

Another leader of the Congress, Sonia Gandhi, had written a letter to Modi last week, complaining that the parliament had been convened without consultations with any other party.

The most widespread speculation over the special session’s agenda is linked to the possibility that the government may change the country’s official name to “Bharat,” instead of India.

The controversy began last week 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, referring to President Droupadi Murmu.

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

During the G20 summit over the weekend, Modi also used the term Bharat instead of India during the plenary session.

Bharat, a word often traced back to Hindu religious texts, has already been used to refer to India in Hindi and as an alternative term. The constitution uses it in its first article, interchangeably with India.

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. EFE