New Delhi, Aug 2: The Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Amendment Bill was given its nod in the Lok Sabha on Friday with the opposition members charging the government with trying to promote 'a Sangh Parivar style of history' as the draft law removes Congress president from the trustees list of the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial trust.
Caustic remarks from either side and rancorous scenes were witnessed in the House repeatedly with BJP members often charging the Congress with neglecting the sacrifices of other leaders who either did not belong to the Congress party or the 'first family'.
Union Culture and Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel said it was unfortunate that the opposition Congress who make towering claims about patriotism staged a walkout when the House was discussing and debating such an important bill that actually 'pays tributes' to martyrs.
Sumedhanand Saraswati of the BJP said the since the Congress came into being and specially after Independence, the party has suffered as many as 17 splits and therefore there is no justification in keeping Congress president as the trustee of the Jallianwalan Bagh trust.
Trinamool Congress member Saugata Roy said bringing in such a legislation, the government is only trying to promote "a Sangh Parivar style of history" and that the country will never accept it.
"I totally oppose this Bill which is against the national interest, which is against the national history and national ethos, and goes against the history of the freedom struggle," Mr Roy said.
Put to vote, 214 members supported the Bill while 30 voted against.
Registering strong protest, Trinamool Congress and DMK members joined the Congress and staged walk-out after the debate while the Bill was being passed.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the government was ignoring the fact that the galaxy of Congress leaders including Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi have made sacrifice for the country. He was supported among others by RSP member N K Premachandran, who said bringing such a draft legislation was "neither constructive nor positive politics" and did not justify debating this in the extended session of Parliament. "What is government going to gain by removing Congress President?," he said.
Replying to the debate, the Union Minister said the government was not trying to change history but 'it was trying to create a history' wherein due respect is being accorded to all those faceless people who made sacrifices.
'To Congress, this is a memorial or trust, for us, this is the sacrifice of ancestors who shed their blood. We pay our homage to them as this year also coincides with the centenary year of the 1919 massacre,' Mr Patel said. A national memorial should remain 'national' in spirit and should not be politicised, he stressed. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi is bringing a change where the basic characteristic of the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial will be changed from being a political body to a truly nationalistic trust," the Minister said.
Virendra Singh of BJP said over the years the sacrifices of other Congress leaders such as Ram Manohar Lohia and Madan Mohan Malviya were long neglected.
DMK member Dayanidhi Maran also opposed the Bill saying - "Why are we wasting useful Parliament time in rewriting history?"
Initiating the discussion on the Bill, Gurjeet Singh Aujla said the names of Congress leaders are found in various bodies because the Congress leaders have made the sacrifice. Opposing the Bill, he said there was no justification in trying to wipe out contributions of Congress from country's freedom struggle.
Another Congress member Jasbir Singh Gill also said the maximum people who were jailed during freedom struggle were from Congress.
He said the government was indulging in "small political one-upmanship". Saugata Roy of Trinamool Congress said he would strongly oppose the government move and wondered why after 68 years after the original Act, there is a move today to remove the Congress President.
"You cannot rub out history," he said. Under the 1951 Act, the Trustees of the Memorial include the Prime Minister as Chairperson, Congress President, Minister in-charge of Culture, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Governor of Punjab, Chief Minister of Punjab, and three eminent persons nominated by the central government.The Bill amends this provision to remove the Congress President as a Trustee.
Further, the legislation clarifies that when there is no Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, then the leader of the single largest opposition party will be the Trustee. The 1951 Act provides that the three trustees nominated by the central government will be trustees for a period of five years and will be eligible for renomination. The Bill allows the central government to terminate the term of a nominated trustee before the expiry of the period of his term without assigning any reason. (UNI)