It's the same song, same verse.

On Tuesday, Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, while speaking at the 26th convocation ceremony of Rajasthan University, is reported to have said that the national anthem should be amended, with the words "adhinayak jai ho" removed.  As the Indian Express reported:
Jan gan man adhinayak jai ho kiske liye hai? It is to praise the ‘angrezi shaasak’…the British. It is about time that it amended and replaced by ‘jan gan man mangal gaye’. I do have full faith in Rabindranath Tagore and respect him but still feel the national anthem should drop the word ‘adhinayak’,” Singh said.

This is by no means the first time that such a charge has been hurled, or such a suggestion mooted for suitably amending the national anthem.

As the news report went on to point out, Singh himself had raised the issue at a recent function to felicitate donors in the field of education and reiterated his demand at the convocation ceremony, a demand that has in particular been revived since the days of the Hindutva campaign against the Babri masjid of the 1980s leading up to its culmination in 1992 with the demolition of the mosque at Ayodhya, which happened under the watch of none other than Singh himself as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

The newspapers did it

But the controversy dates back more than a century, with the confusion persisting from the time that the song was first reported to have been sung – during a convention of the Indian National Congress in what was then Calcutta on Dec 26, 1911. On December 12, 1911, George V, who was then visiting India for the Coronation Delhi Durbar, had announced the abrogation of the Partition of Bengal which Lord Curzon had effected as the Viceroy in 1905. Congress, then in its loyalist phase, decided to publicly acknowledge its allegiance to the Emperor and accord him a royal welcome. That happened to be the agenda of the day for the Congress convention. The event was reported as follows by some of the newspapers.
"The proceedings began with the singing by Rabindranath Tagore of a song specially composed by him in honour of the Emperor."
The Englishman, December 28, 1911)

"The Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore sang a song composed by him specially to welcome the Emperor."
The Statesman, December 28, 1911)

"When the proceedings of the Indian National Congress began on Wednesday 27th December 1911, a Bengali song in welcome of the Emperor was sung. A resolution welcoming the Emperor and Empress was also adopted unanimously."
– The Indian, Dec. 29, 1911)

Delhi University's Pradip Kumar Dutta blames these reports for the confusion that persists till this day:
The confusion about the song was stirred up by the ineptness of the pro-British Anglo-Indian press. Their inefficiency was not surprising (The Sunday Times once ascribed the authorship of Bande Mataram to Tagore and described Jana Gana Mana as a Hindi song!) On this occasion the Anglo-Indian press -- led by The Englishman - almost uniformly reported that a Tagore song had been sung to commemorate George V's visit to India. The reports were based on understandable ignorance since the Anglo-Indian press had neither the linguistic abilities nor the interest to be accurate. Actually, two songs that had been sung that day. The Jana Gana Mana had been followed by a Hindi song composed specially for George V by Rambhuj Chaudhary. There was no real connection between the composition of the Jana Gana Mana and George V, except that the song was sung -- not written - at an event which also felicitated the king. The Anglo-Indian press [luckily for Hindutva enthusiasts and unfortunately for secularists!] heard Indian songs much in the way they looked at foreign faces: they were all the same!

The above is also corroborated by reports in other newspapers:
"The annual session of Congress began by singing a song composed by the great Bengali poet Ravindranath Tagore. Then a resolution expressing loyalty to King George V was passed. A song paying a heartfelt homage to King George V was then sung by a group of boys and girls."
– The Bengalee, December 28, 1911)

"The proceedings of the Congress party session started with a prayer in Bengali to praise God (song of benediction). This was followed by a resolution expressing loyalty to King George V. Then another song was sung welcoming King George V."
The Amrita Bazar Patrika, December 28,1911)

The controversy should have been a non-starter as, Datta points out, anyone familiar with Tagore's body of work would know how absurd the idea was.
Contemporaries obviously found it hard to associate Tagore with servility. Tagore was known for this opposition to the government. Indeed, shortly after the Congress session the government passed a circular that declared Shantiniketan to be a "place altogether unsuitable for the education of Government officers" and threatened punitive measures against officers who sent their children there to study.

Soon, in 1919, after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Tagore went on to renounce his knighthood, conferred by none other than the same George V. And, of course, as Tagore's political views on nationalism and the national movement spread, the charge could not be sustained.

National song

But the controversy was back in 1930s when another controversy arose, over another song, Vande Mataram – one that had been adopted as a "national song" at the Benares Congress session on September 7, 1905. A section of the party considered it problematic as it was felt that its depiction of the nation as "Mother Durga" went against Islamic theology which forbade the worship of any God other than Allah and because of its origin as part of Anandamath, a novel perceived to have an anti-Muslim message.

While the Indian National Congress discussed the status of Vande Mataram, Tagore himself wrote about the genesis of the controversy about the Jana Gana Mana in a letter on November 10, 1937 to Pulin Bihari Sen, which is included in Ravindrajivani, Prabhatkumar Mukherjee's biography of Tagore:
"A certain high official in His Majesty's service, who was also my friend, had requested that I write a song of felicitation towards the Emperor. The request simply amazed me. It caused a great stir in my heart. In response to that great mental turmoil, I pronounced the victory in Jana Gana Mana of that Bhagya Vidhata [ed. God of Destiny] of India who has from age after age held steadfast the reins of India's chariot through rise and fall, through the straight path and the curved. That Lord of Destiny, that Reader of the Collective Mind of India, that Perennial Guide, could never be George V, George VI, or any other George. Even my official friend understood this about the song. After all, even if his admiration for the crown was excessive, he was not lacking in simple common sense."

This should have settled the controversy, but because it continued to swirl around, Tagore was irked enough to write on March 13, 1939:
"I should only insult myself if I cared to answer those who consider me capable of such unbounded stupidity as to sing in praise of George the Fourth or George the Fifth as the Eternal Charioteer leading the pilgrims on their journey through countless ages of the timeless history of mankind."

Indeed, anyone who reads the full five stanzas of the poem – in original Bengali or in its translation – and not just the first stanza that was adopted, and is sung, as the national anthem, would be able to see the absurdity of the charge, for the poem, if anything, clearly mocks the idea of a mortal king being the"Bharata bhagyaa vidhaataa" deciding the fate of the country. In fact, the fifth and concluding stanza of the poem includes a ringing exhortation: "Nidrito Bharato Jaagey" (Sleeping India awakens), a phrase that eventually finds itself invoked even in Nehru's famous Freedom at Midnight speech.

Why now?

So what explains the fact that the controversy keeps getting raked up at regular intervals, particularly by Hindutva proponents? One clue is provided by Datta:
The words of Bande Mataram feature India as a homogeneous Hindu nation. Jana Gana Mana evokes the country as composed of a multiplicity of regions and communities united in a prayer to a universal lord. After all, Bande Mataram was composed by a colonial administrator who could only visualise the nation in Hindu terms: religious identity was the only available idiom for conceptualising the nation then. In contrast, Tagore had seen the riots that broke up the Swadeshi movement and had divined the obvious: religious nationalism easily divided anti-colonial struggles. Jana Gana Mana can be seen as one of the fruits of Tagore's search to find an alternate inclusivist definition for the nation. Incidentally, it was one of the harbingers of a decade that was to see Hindu and Muslim politicians draw together

The other and more immediate concern of course is the fact that whenever it is in power, a section in the Bharatiya Janata Party that is  close to the Rashtriya Seva Sangh sees it as an opportunity to make the most of the situation by going back to the core ideology of the Saffron family by rewriting history and redressing what it perceives are historical wrongs. As the same newspaper report pointed out:
Singh’s demand comes in the wake of a controversy stirred by Primary Education Minister Vasudev Devnani, a prominent RSS face in the state government, who had said that school textbooks in the state are being re-written relegating foreign rulers and personalities and with more focus on indigenous figures such as Maharana Pratap and Aryabhata.

That such controversies also get seen by some as yet another attempt to deflect media attention away from the beleaguered state and central government is perhaps just a sign of the cynical times we live in.

Incidentally, however, one should note that the charge, such as the one made by Kalyan Singh, is no longer just confined to the Hindutva political activists. Even a self-proclaimed secularist, Justice Markandy Katju – he of the scientific opinion that 90% of Indians are fools – had also recently blogged about The British stooge Tagore and the National Anthem. But then the good judge also believes that MK Gandhi was a British agent, and dismisses Subhas Chandra Bose as a Japanese agent.