Parliament today approved the bill to remove the provision granting permanent membership of the Indian National Congress (INC) president of the day to the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust. The Lok Sabha had passed this bill in the last session; the Rajya Sabha passed it on Tuesday. The opposition strongly opposed this amendment and warned the government not to “rewrite history”. The BJP made it clear that no single party could have authority over the shared fight for independence.
Following the passage of the amendment bill in Parliament, the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha or the leader of the largest party will replace the INC president of the day in the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust.
Further, the government will have the right to remove the members even before their five-year term ends.
During the debate on the bill, several opposition members including Partap Singh Bajwa of the INC, Ram Gopal Yadav of the SP, Sukhendu Shekhar Rai of the Trinamool Congress, KK Ragesh of the CPI(M) opposed the amendments in the Act.
Speaking on behalf of the INC, Bajwa said there was “no need to rewrite history”. He demanded Bharat Ratna for Udham Singh, who, after 21 years of the Bhagat Singh’s capital punishment and Jallianwala Bagh massacres, avenged the killings.
In his first address as a Rajya Sabha member on behalf of the ruling party, Sudhanshu Trivedi responded to the opposition’s allegations point by point. Trivedi explained why the provision of the trust needed to be amended for both technical and theoretical reasons. According to him, technically, the president of a single political party cannot have a permanent member in the trust related to the national monument because the political party’s position keeps changing and the INC has split many times. The could even cease to exist, he argued.
Constitutional institutions should have a permanent place for constitutional posts only, Trivedi said. In the same way, he tried to establish theoretically that the INC did not participate in the freedom struggle all alone, but many others contributed to it.
Trivedi said that many INC leaders remained in jail and also got the facility to write books. But there were many fighters who were subjected to nothing but harassment. “Can their contribution be forgotten?” he asked.
Tourism and Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel put the opposition in the dock, saying that the trust was now beyond politics in the true sense. He reminded the House when the trust was formed in 1951, then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had joined it as the then INC president. When Indira Gandhi joined the trust in 1970 as the then prime minister, INC president of the time Jagjivan Ram was absent. Patel said that only those who were elected representatives of the public should get a place in the trust.