With an eye on assembly elections in Bihar and West Bengal, the RJD and Trinamool Congress sought implementation of a 17-year-old Supreme Court order asking the government to give salaries to imams of government-aided mosques.
Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the issue was under consideration but some imams were resisting the move. As his reply infuriated Prasad and others, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee intervened saying the government "will take appropriate action".
Prasad wanted to know the reasons for the delay in implementation of the 1993 SC order 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. Trinamool and Samajwadi party joined ranks with Prasad on the issue.
The issue, raised during zero hour, caused uproar with BJP’s Yogi Adityanath and Bijoya Chakraborty demanding similar remuneration for the eight lakh temple priests in the country.
The debate continued outside the house with Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari saying the issue was being raised because there was an election in Bihar.
Prasad hit back saying, "Congress did not implement it despite coming to power on Muslim votes. But when our party comes to power in Bihar, we will implement the directive."
Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandhyopadhyay said his party supported RJD as "imams in West Bengal were facing an economic crisis".
At a meeting with Pranab Mukherjee, the issue of MP salaries was resolved. "The House will now function as per rules," Sharad Yadav said.
On Friday, non-BJP, Congress and Left party MPs had stalled Lok Sabha for the day over the Cabinet’s decision to increase MP salaries to Rs 50,000 per month.
Mukherjee assured the leaders their issues would be considered before the bill was introduced in Parliament. Lalu Prasad demanded a further hike of R10,000.
Advani pulls Mps
A day after some BJP MPs took part in an all-Opposition mock Parliament, LK Advani expressed displeasure over them lowering the seriousness and dignity of the party.
Sources said Advani had a word with the party's deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde, and MPs Uday Singh and Kirti Azad.
Munde — the Speaker in the mock Parliament — reportedly accepted responsibility but explained the protest was against the government's refusal to discuss the crucial Medical Council of India Bill, passed amid chaos in Lok Sabha.
Sources said that Sushma Swaraj called up Munde expressing her displeasure. Arun Jaitley, too, is believed to be unhappy with the mock protest.