Centre promises to consider salary for imams

Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad's demand in the Lok Sabha on Saturday for payment of salaries to imams (clerics) not only irked the Bharatiya Janata Party, but also forced the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government to state that appropriate action would be taken at the earliest.

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is also the Leader of the House, was forced to intervene when Mr. Prasad and other members took umbrage at Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid's statement that there was difference of opinion among the imams on drawing salaries from the government. Mr. Mukherjee, after going through the Supreme Court ruling, a copy of which was provided to him by Mr. Prasad, said the government and the Wakf Board would take appropriate action as directed by the court.

Raising the issue during zero hour, the RJD chief regretted that the 1993 ruling that directed the government to pay remuneration to imams of masjids aided by the government, as also those not aided by it, within six months, had not been implemented even 17 years later.

Members of various parties, including the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Trinamool Congress and Janata Dal (United), an ally of the BJP, associated themselves with the views on the issue, and charged that Mr. Khurshid was sweeping the matter under the carpet by saying that there was division of opinion.

Even as Mr. Prasad reiterated that the government formulate a legislation and leave it to the imams to accept or decline the salary, BJP members Yogi Adityanath and Bijoya Chakravarty opposed the demand asking why the same facility should not be extended to eight lakh “ sadhus and sants.”

The RJD chief shot back saying he was only seeking the implementation of the court's order, and accused the BJP of communalising the issue. He said there was no reason why sadhus and sants should not get a salary, and underscored that the BJP was free to approach the Supreme Court for the purpose.

Following this, Mr. Adityanath demanded that various Supreme Court rulings regarding Bangladeshi infiltrators and the common civil code, too, be implemented.

Ignoring the BJP's stand, JD(U) member Monazir Hassan suggested that a parliamentary committee be set up to pave the way for payment of salary to imams.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 8:11:53 AM |

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