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Regular-article-logo Thursday, 13 June 2024

Govt push to remove Congress from Jallianwala Bagh trust

The Narendra Modi government's move angers Opposition

Our Special Correspondent New Delhi Published 14.02.19, 09:34 AM
Shashi Tharoor at the Lok Sabha on Wednesday

Shashi Tharoor at the Lok Sabha on Wednesday PTI

The government on Wednesday pushed through a bill in the Lok Sabha that seeks to remove the Congress president as a permanent member of a trust that runs the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial, prompting the Congress to accuse the Narendra Modi dispensation of “erasing history”.

“Why does this government fear accountability? Why do they want to control a trust? Why is it that they can change a nominated trustee based on political reasons and pack this glorious memorial of Hindu-Muslim unity with Hindutva ideologues and government stooges?” Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said while participating in the debate on the bill.

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The amendment bill seeks to “delete” the mention of “President of the Indian National Congress” as a trustee and provides for the leader of the single largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha to be a member of the trust.

The bill, pushed through on the last day of the budget session, also empowers the government to cut short the term of a nominated trustee without assigning any reason.

Culture minister Mahesh Sharma justified the amendment and questioned why the president of the Congress should be a trustee.

“I hereby question why there should be a political party head there (in the trust),” he said, claiming that the government was rising above party lines in the interest of the country.

Tharoor, however, quoted from history and said that B.R. Ambedkar had moved a resolution in the Lok Sabha in 1951 to convert the trust into a National Statutory Trust and designated the president of the Indian National Congress as an ex-officio trustee.

“Why did he (Ambedkar) do that? It was because the Congress had bought the land. The Congress party had established the trust; the Congress had roused the conscience of the nation on what happened in Jallianwala Bagh,” Tharoor said, accusing the Modi government of trying to “erase history”.

Trinamul Congress member Sugata Bose appealed to the government not to “bring a divisive bill” on the Jallianwala issue.

Bhartruhari Mahtab of the BJD supported the bill but asked the government to amend the clause that seeks to remove a trustee without giving any reason.

The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha after the Congress walked out in protest but will lapse as it could not be introduced in the Rajya Sabha.

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