A bill to scrap the provision in the 'Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act' that makes the Congress president permanent member of the trust which manages Amritsar's Jallianwala Bagh massacre memorial, was on Tuesday passed in Rajya Sabha by voice vote. With an exception of MP Jairam Ramesh, who voted in the negative, the Congress members of parliament remained silent during voting.
The amendment bill, which was earlier passed in the Lok Sabha, also provides for making the Leader of Opposition or Leader of the single largest party its permanent member.
"It (the bill) seeks to make apolitical the trust that runs Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial by removing the clause pertaining to the President of INC as a permanent member of the trust," the Ministry of Culture said in a statement after the passage of the bill.
"The Bill also amends to include the Leader of Opposition recognised as such in the House of the People (Lok Sabha) or where there is no such Leader of Opposition, then the Leader of the single largest Opposition Party in that House as a member of the trust," it added.
Replying to a debate over the bill, Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel said it would end the political colour which the trust earlier had.
Taking a dig at the opposition, he said they had no problem with other provisions of the bill.
"I just wanted to ask as how many cheques the Congress party has given to the memorial," he said.
"The people elected by the people should get positions in the trust," he added.
Binoy Viswam of the Communist Part Of India said the role of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru in the freedom struggle cannot be denied. "This is a wrong step to rewrite history," he claimed.
Congress MP Pratap Singh Bajwa urged the centre to show magnanimity and pay respect to the Congress's contribution in the freedom struggle.
Hundreds of Indians were killed in the Jallianwala Bagh in 1919, when British General Reginald Dyer ordered indiscriminate firing on a peaceful procession in Amritsar. After Independence, a memorial was built at the site, and the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust was created by passing a legislation.
With inputs from IANS, PTI