Bill to remove Congress chief as Jallianwala Bagh trustee deferred in Rajya Sabha
The government in the upper House urged members to pass the bill without discussion as this year marked the centenary of the Jallianwala massacre and also in view of the death of former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.Updated: Aug 07, 2019 23:29 IST
The Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (amendment) Bill, which seeks to remove the Congress president as a trustee, could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha (RS) on Wednesday in the absence of a broad consensus on the legislation.
The government in the upper House urged members to pass the bill without discussion as this year marked the centenary of the Jallianwala massacre and also in view of the death of former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
Culture minister Prahlad Singh Patel moved the bill in the House further to amend the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act, 1951, as passed by Lok Sabha on August 2 for consideration and passage without debate.
Congress member Anand Sharma, however, said the minister must be allowed to talk about salient features of the bill, which was agreed to by the minister.
The Congress chief is a permanent member of the panel. The bill seeks to amend this to include the leader of largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha as a member.
Sharma said members don’t want any acrimony or argument on the last day of the session but the issue pertained to national sentiments related to India’s Independence. “It is the duty of the nation to remember and respect those who had struggled. The government should acknowledge the role of the Congress in India’s freedom movement. Due should be given to the party which had steered the movement...The government should reconsider this bill...The government should show some large-heartedness,” Sharma said.
Chairman Venkaiah Naidu said more members want to speak on the bill. “If you want a discussion, we have to take up the bill in the next session only,” he said.
Parliamentary affairs minister Prahlad Joshi urged members to pass the bill since it is the centenary year of the event. He said the tenure of members has lapsed and a new panel has to be constituted.
Leader of the opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad demanded that the bill should be deferred as the “heaven will not fall in one or two months”.
He said this was the time to mourn the death of Swaraj, one of the tallest political leaders. “Let’s not fight today,” he said.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad stressed that since it is the centenary year of Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the bill should be passed and a detailed discussion be taken up in the next session in November.
Earlier, the Lok Sabha on August 2 had passed the bill by voice vote amid a walkout by the Congress. Amendments moved by opposition parties were defeated by division of votes.
A division sought by opposition members at the time of consideration of the bill was defeated with 214 voting in favour and 30 against.
The amendment bill also paves the way for the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha to be a member of the trust.
But no such post exists at present as no non-BJP party has won the required 10% of total seats to get the status.
As of now, the trust which manages the memorial, has the Prime Minister as the chairperson, president of Indian National Congress, culture minister, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, Punjab governor, Punjab CM as its members.