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Name Game

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Where in the national anthem is the word ‘India’ to be found?

Describing President Murmu as the ‘President of Bharat’ has raised a much bigger storm among the members of the INDI Alliance than did Dayanidhi Stalin’s statement on ‘eradication of Sanatan Dharma’. This reveals their priorities – they have become so blind to the larger picture and so self-absorbed that they are failing to consider how they are revealing their ideological positioning to the people. They fall into every single trap set for them by the BJP.

The use of the more revered and ancient name by the government, which many use anyway in their daily lives, should not send such waves of panic among the opposition. TMC’s Mamata Banerjee has declared it as ‘tampering with history’. How? Even Pakistanis prefer to use Bharat instead of Hindustan, for obvious reasons.

It is not unusual for countries to change their names from those given to them by foreigners. The latest has been the change in Turkey’s spelling to Turkiye to get the pronunciation right. Cambodia became Kampuchea, Burma has become Myanmar. The USSR reverted to being Russia, and so on.

Is the opposition alliance feeling guilty about having misappropriated the word India, to send the subliminal message to the voters that it represents the country, except, of course, the Rakshas types? It now fears that Bharat will become the norm and its gambit will have failed.

The strategy obviously has been, as Rahul Gandhi has said, that the total number of votes polled by the entire opposition in previous elections, amounting to just over sixty percent should be consolidated against the BJP. It is their belief that caste, community, regional and other differences will overcome the Hindutva plank. So, denigrating ‘Sanatan Dharma’ is very much part of their strategy – this will be the foundation of their unity. And the BJP wants the people to see this and make up their minds accordingly.

The matter will be resolved, of course, at election time – ultimately in the Lok Sabha contest, but also in the run up to it, beginning from the seven assembly bypolls taking place on Tuesday. It is disappointing, however, that the quality of opposition politics is so unsophisticated that it cannot even respond with the required dignity and maturity to moves made by the government.