Lalu wants Centre to pay salary to imams

New Delhi, Aug. 21: The issue of remuneration to imams in government-aided mosques disrupted the Lok Sabha on Saturday when RJD, SP and Trinamul members pressed the Centre to implement a 17-year-old Supreme Court order regarding payment of salaries to the clerics.

The Leader of the House, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, said the government would take appropriate action to implement the court order after the RJD chief, Mr Lalu Prasad, raised the issue during Zero Hour.

Mr Prasad wanted to know the reasons for the delay in implementation of a 1993 SC judgment on a petition of the All India Imams Organisation relating to salaries of imams in government-aided mosques and remuneration to clerics in non-aided places of worship.

There was minor uproar in the House after the minority affairs minister, Mr Salman Khurshid, spoke of differences among imams on drawing salaries from the government.

In protest, the BJP members, Mr Yogi Adityanath and Mr Bijoya Chakraborty, demanded similar remuneration for eight lakh temple priests across the country. This resulted in a heated exchange of words between the BJP and the RJD, SP and TMC.

The Congress dismissed the issue as an “election” stunt. “There is an election in Bihar and when elections are round the corner a large number of cases are dragged out of the closet,” the Congress spokesperson, Mr Manish Tewari, told reporters outside Parliament.

“We have tremendous respect for Mr Lalu Prasad but the RJD leader did not raise the issue when he was a minister in UPA-1 government,” said Mr Tewari.

Reacting to the Congress charge, Mr Prasad said, “Congress did not implement it despite coming to power on Muslim votes. But when our party will come to power in Bihar, we will implement the directive.”

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