Mulayam Singh as UP CM sought to replace India with Bharat in 2004
Yadav’s 2004 resolution has seemingly placed the Samajwadi Party, part of INDIA , in a difficult situation as a political debate rages over changing the country’s name
The Union government’s decision to use “President of Bharat” instead of “President of India” in official G20 invitations has stirred up opposition parties, coalescing under the banner of the INDIA alliance, to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi in run up of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
One of the principal partners of the INDIA (Indian National Inclusive Developmental Alliance), the Samajwadi Party, however, had proposed a similar idea 19 years ago in the Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power at the Centre.
The then Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav, proposed a resolution in the state legislative assembly, urging the phrase “India that is Bharat” to be replaced with “Bharat that is India” through a constitutional amendment.
Yadav had tabled the resolution, soliciting an amendment to Article 1 within Part 1 (Name and Territory of the Union) of the Indian Constitution. The state legislative assembly unanimously endorsed this proposal on August 3, 2004.
“I propose the substitution of the words ‘India that is Bharat’ with ‘Bharat that is India.’ However, it appears they are reluctant to entertain this proposal. I call upon the minister for parliamentary affairs (then Mohammad Azam Khan) to introduce a resolution to this effect. The state legislative assembly ought to pass this resolution and subsequently forward it to the parliament,” Yadav said.
“Where lies the impediment in doing so? Honourable Deputy Speaker, I hereby propose the inclusion of ‘Bharat that is India’ through a constitutional amendment to the Indian Constitution. I request your permission to endorse this proposal, and I hope for unanimous support,” Yadav added in his speech in the state legislative assembly on August 3, 2004.
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Yadav’s resolution primarily aimed to discourage the usage of English terminology. Even though the then leader of the opposition and senior BJP figure, the late Lalji Tandon, urged Yadav to present the resolution according to established rules, he commended the initiative, stating, “The name should indeed be ‘Bharat.’ Why persist with ‘India’? Why retain the term ‘India’?” Tandon said.
Subsequently, parliamentary affairs minister Mohammad Azam Khan said that the resolution had been tabled with an open mind, driven by a profound love for the country, transcending all political considerations.
“It is regrettable that, even after 56 years of independence, we continue to employ the same nomenclature (imported from abroad). We cannot entirely dispense with this, as it pertains to a language issue,” Khan said.
Yadav’s 2004 resolution has seemingly placed the Samajwadi Party in a difficult situation as a political debate rages over changing the country’s name, and SP leaders have remained silent on it.
When contacted, SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary stated that he was unaware of the 2004 resolution.
“We are steadfastly defending the Constitution and preparing for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections as part of the INDIA alliance,” Chaudhary said.
Regarding reports suggesting that the Samajwadi Party’s manifesto for the 2004 Lok Sabha elections promised the replacement of “India” with “Bharat” in the Constitution if the party came to power, Chaudhary did not give a categorical response.