Former VP Venkaiah Naidu praises simultaneous polls, using ‘Bharat’ over ‘India’, even as Opposition slams move

Opposition leaders claimed that the BJP created the controversy of dropping the usage of 'India' to divert attention from other issues.

BySouth First Desk

Published Sep 06, 2023 | 11:17 PMUpdatedSep 06, 2023 | 11:17 PM

Mallikarjun Kharge and M Venkaiah Naidu. (Sourced)

On Wednesday, 6 September. former vice-president M Venkaiah said that the country needs to have simultaneous elections to both the Parliament and the state assemblies, as frequent polls will impede the progress of the nation.

Simultaneous polls will ease the financial burden on the exchequer, he stated.

Meanwhile, Opposition leaders, including Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, and his son Priyank Kharge claimed that the BJP had created controversies to divert attention from other issues.

Also Read: ‘India’ to ‘Bharat’ may put country in identity crisis

‘Nothing wrong in using Bharat’

Interacting with the media at his residence in Hyderabad, Naidu, speaking about the Union government’s recent “Bharat” move, said that there was nothing wrong in using the name “Bharat” instead of “India” as the country was known as Bharat since time immemorial.

Naidu said that the Constitution already mentions “India, that is Bharat…”.

“There was so much debate and discussion in the Constituent Assembly itself. And these two (India and Bharat) are interchangeable. Bharat has been used since time immemorial,” Naidu said. “Nobody should have any objection to using the name ‘Bharat’,” he added.

He said that the word “India” came into parlance as it was named so by foreigners. Otherwise, culturally, the country is known as “Bharat”.

‘Government not able to make firm decisions’

Speaking about the simultaneous elections, he said, “Going by the Election Commission recommendations, Law Commission recommendations, Parliamentary Standing Committees’ recommendations, and also guided by cost-saving, I feel personally that we must go by the principle of ‘One Nation, One Election’.”

“We should avoid unnecessary controversies in a democracy. There are bound to be differences sometimes. But after the debate, we must evolve consensus, then move on,” he added.

The former vice-president said that with frequent elections, governments of the day would not be able to make firm decisions in the larger interest of the people.

According to him, there used to be simultaneous elections to both the Parliament and state assemblies till 1971. However, later, due to various reasons, the practice ended.

Naidu, however, felt that there should be a thorough and meaningful debate on the subject of both simultaneous elections and the usage of “Bharat”.

Also Read: Dropping ‘India’ will need Constitutional amendment

‘To deflect attention’

On Wednesday, Congress leader and Karnataka minister Priyank Kharge said that the ongoing India-Bharat naming controversy was intended to deflect attention from the real issues in the country.

“This government came to power saying that they’re going to be game-changers, but unfortunately, they have become name-changers,” Kharge told PTI, on the sidelines of the Global Fintech Fest being held in the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai.

“Are our fortunes going to change? Is our economy going to improve or more people going to get employed (after name change)?” asked the Karnataka minister.

Junior Kharge said that the intention behind such a move was “simple” and alleged that it was a ploy “to just divert attention from real issues”.

‘To destroy pluralism’

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan criticised the central government’s alleged move to rename India as “Bharat” and said that it was a part of the repeated attempts by the ruling regime to destroy the nation’s pluralism.

Vijayan, in a statement, said that any political decision should not be against the interests of the nation. In the present case, the alleged move to rename the country is “undemocratic” and “unconstitutional”, he added.

Questioning why the Centre was afraid of the word “India”, he demanded that the Union government withdraw the steps taken by it to change the name of the country.

The Kerala chief minister also urged the people to protest together against such “narrow-minded politics”.

Also Read: Poll panel ready to work as per legal provisions, says CEC

‘INDIA made BJP worried’

On Wednesday, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said that the alliance of like-minded Opposition parties named INDIA has worried the BJP, which is now trying to drop “India” and keep only “Bharat” as the country’s name.

“The Constitution states India means Bharat. Do you have any objection to these two words? We are saying ‘Bharat Jodo’ but you are trying to bring something new. Whenever we talk about something, they either try to defame it or mislead people,” Kharge said, while addressing a farmers’ rally in Bhilwara in poll-bound Rajasthan.

The Congress president alleged that the Union government has harassed and looted the poor.

He said that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi covered 4,500 km from Kanyakumari to Kashmir in the Bharat Jodo Yatra and spread the message of “Bharat Jodo” (unite India).

“We say Bharat Jodo, they say Bharat Todo,” he said and added, “They are getting nervous over INDIA (alliance).”

Kharge said that the Narendra Modi-led government does not allow anyone to rise and takes pleasure in erasing what the Congress had done earlier.

“Whatever things we did have been stopped. They neither have a plan nor the courage to work for the poor… They will not do anything and will just go on abusing the Congress,” he said.

Also Read: AICC chief Kharge calls CWC meet in poll-bound Telangana

‘BJP raises Hindu-Muslim issues’

Kharge said that the Congress never lies and its every effort has been to strengthen the people, whereas the BJP uses RSS and raises Hindu-Muslim issues.

He said that the farmers’ movement against the now-repealed farm laws went on for months and 750 farmers died during the agitation, but the prime minister did not even look at them.

Referring to the Lakhimpur Kheri incident in 2021, he said that a Union minister’s son crushed farmers with his jeep, but the minister is still in the government.

Targeting Prime Minister Modi, Kharge said, “He used to say that ‘I will double the income of farmers’ but he looted people through (high prices of) diesel, petrol, LPG, everything. He has harassed and ruined the poor. He issued directions and the finance department kept on looting people.”

The Congress leader said that Modi did not say anything on the Manipur situation in the Parliament and when he did speak on the issue to the media, he named Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh as well.

He said that the history of the Congress has been one of sacrifice, while the BJP made no contribution to the country’s independence.

“We are the ones who liberated the country, our leaders went to jail, and made sacrifices. What did the Jana Sangh, present BJP or RSS, do for the freedom of the country?” he asked.

(With PTI inputs)