Delhi Assembly clarifies: No mention of Bharat Ratna withdrawal in resolution

New Delhi: The Delhi Assembly on Monday released an official bulletin to clarify that the resolution adopted on the anti-Sikh riots by the House on December 21 did not have any mention demanding withdrawal of the Bharat Ratna conferred on late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The Assembly Secretariat issued a three-page “brief summary of House proceedings” which showed that the resolution had sought to call the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as “genocide” and did not mention Rajiv Gandhi’s name. Soon after the Assembly released the bulletin, Opposition MLAs had called the dropping of the award withdrawal as “illegal, unauthorized and unconstitutional.” On Monday, leader of the Opposition Vijender Gupta and MLAs O.P. Sharma, M.S. Sirsa and Jagdish Pradhan held a meeting in the Delhi Assembly.

“The resolution containing the reference was unanimously passed by the Assembly on Friday. However, the bulletin of December 21 issued on Monday as per rule by the Assembly showed that the reference to the withdrawal of Bharat Ratna from Rajiv Gandhi has been dropped from the resolution passed by the House that day,” Gupta said. “It was felt that the resolution asking for withdrawal of Bharat Ratna is now an inseparable part of the proceeding of the House and cannot be amended in this manner,” he said.

Sirsa had on Monday submitted a notice to the Secretary, Delhi Assembly, seeking removal of the Speaker for dropping the line from the resolution which read that “this House also resolved that Centre should withdraw Bharat Ratna from the then acting PM Rajiv Gandhi”.  He said the resolution has been illegally, unauthorizedly and unconstitutionally amended by none other than the Speaker himself. “The Speaker’s deliberate, planned and sustained action is a clear-cut case of blatant forgery out of unpardonable moral and ethical turpitude.”

A controversy erupted on December 21 when AAP MLA Jarnail Singh, after reading the resolution for speedy trial of cases and justice for the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, added a line demanding the withdrawal of the Bharat Ratna award given to Rajiv Gandhi alleging that the late prime minister “justified anti-Sikh riots”. “The House urges the Centre to take back India’s highest civilian award ‘Bharat Ratna’ from late former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for justifying the 1984 anti-Sikh riots,” Singh added after reading out the resolution passed by the House.

The line was not part of the original printed resolution, but was handwritten and was suggested by AAP MLA Somnath Bharti, he claimed. The Delhi Assembly had adopted the resolution by a voice vote. However, there was a doubt over whether the line was a part of the resolution. Speaker Ram Niwas Goel, the Delhi government and the AAP had maintained that the demand for the withdrawal of Bharat Ratna was not part of the resolution and that it was only a demand of the MLA, which can only be considered as a proposed amendment to the resolution.

Later, AAP MLA Alka Lamba claimed that the party asked her to support the award withdrawal demand, over which she had walked out of the House. The speculation of party demanding resignation of Lamba surfaced soon after. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia later said that no such demand was made by the party from Lamba. On her part, Lamba, too, said she was “not resigning”. The Delhi Assembly had a short duration discussion on 1984 riots during the two-day session beginning December 20. The last among the members who spoke on the discussion was Singh, where he put his demand for the award withdrawal.

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