BJP’s Past Disagreement: When the Mulayam Singh Government Sought to Rename India as Bharat


As the Opposition and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) engage in a political battle over the potential renaming of India as Bharat, following President Droupadi Murmu’s address as the President of Bharat during G20 Summit invitations, divergent historical accounts have emerged. These accounts recall that the same BJP, which is currently endorsing the term BHARAT in 2023, had staged a walkout from the Uttar Pradesh state Assembly in 2004 in response to a resolution proposed by Mulayam Singh Yadav to rename India as Bharat.

In 2004, the Samajwadi Party (SP) chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav, led the Uttar Pradesh cabinet in passing a resolution advocating the amendment of the Constitution to read ‘Bharat, that is India,’ instead of ‘India, that is Bharat.’ This resolution received unanimous approval in the state legislative assembly, except from the BJP, which chose to stage a walkout before the resolution could be passed.

The speculation regarding the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) potentially proposing the elimination of the name ‘India’ from the Constitution, leaving only ‘Bharat,’ arose in the context of a special parliamentary session scheduled for September 18 to September 22.

Although neither the Lok Sabha nor the Rajya Sabha has officially disclosed the agendas for the five-day special parliamentary session, there is speculation within the Opposition bloc that the NDA may introduce the ‘One Nation, One Election’ bill and propose the removal of ‘India’ as the nation’s name.

The historical context of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s 2004 resolution to replace ‘India’ with ‘Bharat’ sheds light on the intricacies of the ongoing debate concerning the nation’s nomenclature. It reflects the ongoing evolution of India’s political landscape and the diverse perspectives surrounding issues of language, identity, and historical heritage. As discussions unfold in the special parliamentary session, the nation’s leaders will grapple with these significant and symbolic decisions that have the potential to shape India’s identity for years to come.

The ideology behind Mulayam Singh Yadav’s 2004 proposal to substitute ‘India’ with ‘Bharat’ was rooted in the desire to rid the nation of colonial influences, which included the abandonment of English—a stance aligned with the socialist views espoused by Ram Manohar Lohia.

Ram Manohar Lohia advocated for the replacement of English as the official language with Hindi, contending that English created a division between the educated and the uneducated. He believed that adopting Hindi as the official language would promote unity. The SP’s manifesto at the time affirmed, “Our country was always known as Bharat. However, during the 200 years of British rule, it was named India,” as reported by the Times of India.

In conclusion, the historical record reveals the complex nature of the ongoing debate regarding the nation’s name. The historical context of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s 2004 resolution to rename India as Bharat underscores the intricate interplay of historical, linguistic, and political factors in India’s identity discourse. As contemporary discussions surrounding this matter continue to evolve, they will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of the nation’s identity and its place in the modern world.

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