India will be renamed as “Bharat” and those who are against this decision can leave the country, West Bengal Bharatiya Janata Party leader Dilip Ghosh said on Sunday, reported PTI.
His comments came amid speculation that the BJP government intends to officially change the name of the country.
It all started when a dinner invitation that emerged on Tuesday from the president’s office to G20 summit delegates introduced Droupadi Murmu as the “President of Bharat” instead of the customary “President of India”.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s placard at the opening of the G20 summit had also referred to India as “Bharat”.
While addressing an event in West Bengal’s Kharagpur city on Sunday, Ghosh declared that the country’s name will be changed. “When our party comes to power in West Bengal, we will remove all statues of foreigners in Kolkata,” the Medinipur MP added.
Another senior BJP leader from the state, Rahul Sinha, said that a country cannot have two names and this was the correct time to replace India with Bharat since world leaders are present in New Delhi for the G20 summit.
The G20 invitation from the president’s office became public three days after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat appealed to citizens to stop saying India when referring to the country and use Bharat instead.
“The name of our country has been Bharat for ages,” he said. “Whatever may be the language, the name remains the same.”
But rumours about the plan to change the name of the country, however, drew criticism from Opposition parties.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh denounced it as Modi’s attempt to distort the country’s history, while the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Manoj Jha claimed that the invitation showed that the BJP was scared of the newly formed Opposition coalition INDIA.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: “If an alliance of some parties is named INDIA, would they change the name of the country. If the INDIA alliance renames itself as Bharat, would they rename Bharat as BJP then? What’s this joke?”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that history was being rewritten. “What happened suddenly that the name of the country needs to be changed?” she asked.
Also read: A short history of ‘India’ versus ‘Bharat’