NEW DELHI, Sept 9 (AFP) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his opening address to the G20 summit Saturday with his country nameplate labelled "Bharat" -- an ancient Sanskrit word -- in the biggest signal yet of a potential official change.

The gesture came days after invitations to the summit dinner were sent out in the name of the "President of Bharat", prompting rumours official usage of the country's English name would be scrapped.

Modi himself typically refers to India as "Bharat", a word dating back to ancient Hindu scriptures, and one of two official names for the country under its constitution.

Members of his Hindu nationalist party have previously campaigned against using the country's better-known moniker, India, which has roots in Western antiquity and was imposed during the British conquest.

His government has worked to remove any lingering symbols of British rule from the country's urban landscape, political institutions and history books.

Earlier this year, foreign minister S. Jaishankar seemed to support the idea of shedding the name India.

"Bharat" he said, had "a meaning and understanding and a connotation that comes with it and that is reflected in our Constitution as well," the Hindustan Times quoted him as saying on Wednesday.

Rumours of the plan were enough to spark a mix of anger from opposition lawmakers and enthusiastic support from other quarters.

"I hope the government will not be so foolish as to completely dispense with 'India'," Shashi Tharoor of the opposition Congress party said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Former Test cricketer Virender Sehwag urged India's cricket board to use "Bharat" on team uniforms, writing: "India is a name given by the British (and) it has been long overdue to get our original name 'Bharat' back."