Soon after the opposition parties formed the INDIA bloc to take on the BJP, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was the first man to start cheering for the ‘Bharat’ name. He changed his bio on X (formerly Twitter) and added 'Bharat' in place of India in the country name.
Since then, Sarma has been consistently pushing for Bharat and asserted that the Reserve Bank of India should also be renamed.
"Reserve Bank of Bharat should be the name of the central bank instead of Reserve Bank of India. This is a renaissance era. Many changes have been implemented in the Centre as well as in Assam," he had said.
The Chief Minister further claimed that numerous British-imposed customs still exist in the nation and that they must be changed.
“Whether it is India or Bharat, I don't think this is disputed. The Supreme Court has previously declared that the names India and Bharat can be used interchangeably. No one objected when Amit Shah introduced the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita legislation in Parliament.”
Arguing on ‘Bharat’, he claimed that Indira Gandhi and Manmohan Singh had earlier taken oath as Prime Minister of Bharat.
The Assam Chief Minister said: “Manmohan Singh had taken the oath as the prime minister of Bharat, while HD Deve Gowda took as Prime Minister of India. So far I remember, Indira Gandhi also took the oath as Bharat ka Pradhan Mantri, not as a Prime Minister of India."
He asserted that the term "India" and customs from the British era are "colonial hangovers" and that the nation is about to enter a "phase of renaissance" during which they will be abandoned.
"People have been waiting for one Modi to arrive and end this colonial hangover for 75 years,” the Chief Minister said.
He continued, seemingly referring to the use of the term India and carrying on with colonial practices, “How can Modi ji be blamed for something done by (Jawaharlal) Nehru?”
The Chief Minister also attacked Rahul Gandhi in ‘India vs Bharat’ debate and said: “He did a Bharat Jodo yatra and Congress leaders then had no issues with it. I think the Congressmen should first ask Rahul why he did a Bharat Jodo instead of India Jodo Yatra.”
The BJP leader moreover said that Congress takes the Bharat name when it suits themselves.
“If the Yuvraj (Rahul Gandhi) uses Bharat name then it's ok with the grand old party leaders. When we call it Bharat, then Congressmen jumped into the criticism which is very strange,” Sarma mentioned.
Since he joined the BJP after quitting Congress in 2015, Sarma has been seen to promote Hindutva politics more than any other prominent leaders of the saffron party.
In the last two years, he has taken a series of decisions in Assam -- shutting down of Madrassas, eviction drive in Muslim populated places, cracking down on child marriages, recent delimitation exercise -- almost all were called as anti-Muslim steps by the opposition.
The Chief Minister has openly announced that he does not need Muslim votes.
In Assam, which has more than 30 per cent of Muslim votes, Sarma wants to convert the state politics into a binary.
He intends to consolidate Hindu votes to the BJP with large-scale polarisation and Muslim votes may be divided between the Congress and Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) party.
At this juncture, Sarma’s cheerleading for the Bharat name is another attempt to woo the Hindu voters in Assam.