Prahlad Singh Patel introduced the introduced the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Congress vehemently opposed the bill with its leader Shashi Tharoor urging the government not to betray history and the heritage by removing the Congress President citing the grand old party's long association with the trust. The Bill amends the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act, 1951.
Introducing the Bill, Tourism Minister, Prahlad Singh Patel said the Bill was passed in the 16th Lok Sabha but could not be passed in Rajya Sabha. "I will respond to every issue raised by members during the debate on the Bill," he said pointing out that the Congress President has been a trustee since last 45-50 years.
Under the 1951 Act, the Trustees of the Memorial include the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the President of the Indian National Congress, the Minister in-charge of Culture, the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, the Governor of Punjab, the Chief Minister of Punjab and three eminent persons nominated by the Central government.
The current bill seeks to do away with the automatic nomination of the President of the Indian National Congress as a Trustee. Further, it 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.
Speaking on the issue, Majinder Singh Sirsa said that hundreds of tpeople died there are it does not belong to Congress. "We need to free Indian legacy from teh clutches of teh Congress, the Jallianwala Bagh is a national heritage."
The Centre's move comes in the centenary commemoration of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre which is being observed by the Centre. The Act provides that the three eminent persons nominated by the central government will have a term of five years and will be eligible for re-nomination. However, the Bill adds a provision to allow the central government to terminate the term of a nominated trustee before the expiry of his term without assigning any reason.
The Modi government had attempted to get the Bill for the same through 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.
(with inputs from ANI)