Parliament nod to bill for removal of Cong chief as Jallianwala memorial trustee
New Delhi, Nov 19: Parliament on Tuesday passed a bill which seeks to remove the Congress president as a trustee of the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial. The Rajya Sabha passed by voice vote 'The Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (amendment) Bill', which deletes the provision of the Congress chief being a permanent member of the trust which runs the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial.
The Lok Sabha has already passed the bill on August 2, which also paves the way for the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha to be a member of the trust.
Replying to the debate, Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel said this bill would end the political colour which the trust earlier had. Taking a dig at the opposition, he said that they have no problem with other provisions of the bill but only with the one in which the party president is being removed as trustee.
"I just wanted to ask as how many cheques the Congress party has given to the memorial," he said. He also rejected allegations that the government is attempting to rewrite history. "No one wants to change history," said Patel, adding "people are being misguided".
According to him, Jawaharlal Nehru, Saifuddin Kitchlew and Maulana Azad were members of the trust when it was formed in 1951. "Nehru attended as Congress president and not as Prime Minister," he said, adding after Nehru, Kitchlew and Azad died, their seats were not filled. Moreover, Indira Gandhi once attended the meeting in 1970 and at that time she was the Prime Minister of the country and Jagjivan Ram, who was the Congress President, did not get the chance to attend, Patel said.
"I just want to ask, in what capacity Indira Gandhi was the member of the trust," he said. "Who played with the rules and regulations of the trust," he asked, adding "there is no register and records of the trust." According to him, this institution is going to get its right after 100 years. "The people elected by the people should get positions in the trust," he said.
According to him, Punjab Chief Minister would be in the trust and through him, the Congress party would have its representation. The management committee of the trust includes former governor R L Bhatia, MP Amritsar, two MLAs of Amritsar, Mayor of the city, Culture Minister of Punjab and Chairman of the Improvement Board Amritsar, he added. Participating in the debate, K Ravindra Kumar of the TDP said the museum at Jallianwala Bagh was not properly maintained. He also suggested that statues of martyrs such as Udham Singh and Bhagat Singh should be installed and the family members of the martyrs should also be included in the trust.
Binoy Viswam of the CPI said that although he differs from the Congress but the role played by Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru in the freedom struggle cannot be denied. Opposing the bill, he said, "This is a wrong step to rewrite history." Manoj Kumar Jha of the RJD and Satnarayan Jatia of the BJP also participated in the debate.