The Lok Sabha on Friday passed a Bill which seeks to do away with the automatic nomination of Congress Cresident as trustee of the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial trust as the party staged a walkout in protest.
The Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was moved by Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel, who said there should not be politicisation of institutions but their nationalisation.
While Congress member Gurjeet Singh Aujla accused the BJP and organisations linked to it of not having had a role in the freedom struggle, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal hit back at the Congress and raked up the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Opposing the Bill, Ahuja asked what was the "compulsion" of the government in wanting to remove the Congress President as a trustee and alleged that the BJP wants to promote members of its ideology. "Why are we wasting useful parliament time in rewriting history? Let's proceed," he said.
Trinamool Congress member Saugata Roy opposed the Bill and said the trust to manage the Jallianwala National Memorial was set up by Mahatma Gandhi.
Roy said the Congress was not the same as it was in the pre-Independence era but it is the successor organization. He accused the BJP-led government of "trying to promote Sangh Parivar style of history" saying it was against national ethos.
The Bill amends the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act, 1951 which was passed to erect a National Memorial in memory of those killed and wounded in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of over 1,000 people on April 12, 1919. In addition, the Bill also creates a trust to manage the memorial.
Under the provisions of the Act, the trustees of the Memorial include the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Congress president, the Minister-in-charge of Culture, the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, the Governor and Chief Minister of Punjab, and three eminent persons nominated by the Centre as its members.
It further clarifies that when there is no Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha then the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha will be the trustee.
The Centre's move comes in the centenary commemoration of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre which is being observed by the Centre.
The Bill also allows the central government to terminate the term of a nominated trustee before the expiry of the period of his term.
The Modi government had attempted to get the Bill passed from Parliament at the near end of its first tenure, passing it in Lok Sabha in February 2019. However, the Rajya Sabha did not pass the Bill amid strong opposition from the Congress party and it, therefore, lapsed with the 16th Lok Sabha.
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