West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced a raise in stipend for Imams, muezzins and purohits at the event in Kolkata on Monday. (PTI)
Experts said the stipend to Imams was higher as Waqf Board money is added to the state’s dole, increasing the total amount. Also, Imams cannot do any other work apart from being in the mosque and hence must be compensated
A new controversy seems to be rearing its head in West Bengal after chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced increase in the stipend of Imams and Brahmin priests, with BJP attacking the Trinamool Congress for the pay disparity between the two even as experts explained the logic behind the move.
At the All India Imam Muezzin meeting, Banerjee declared that the stipend of Imams, Muezzins and Brahmin priests would be increased by Rs 500 in the state. While Imams will get Rs 3,000, Muezzins will get Rs 1,500 and Brahmin priests will also get the same amount.
The BJP used the opportunity to train guns on Banerjee, with Amit Malviya calling the TMC supremo “brazenly communal and divisive”.
Mamata Banerjee is brazenly communal and divisive.Yesterday, at a conference of Muslim clerics in West Bangal, she announced a 500 rupees hike in the remuneration of Imams and Muezzins. As an after thought, also included Purohits.
But here is the catch. Imams get paid 3,000…
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) August 22, 2023
It was in 2012 that Banerjee first declared stipend for Imams and Muezzins. This had irked the Opposition which accused her of appeasing minorities. Soon, the Purohit association placed its demand for stipend and around 2020, the state government started giving priests a stipend of Rs 1,000.
As the row blows up, News18 spoke to several people in the administration and ruling party to know the logic behind the disparity.
First, the money given to Imams is via the Waqf Board, with the funds of the body and state government together forming the stipend of Imams — a higher amount.
Sources also said Imams cannot do any other work apart from being in the mosque whereas priests can opt for other jobs. Since the job of Imams is 14 hours long, more money is given to them.
Despite the increase, a section of Imams is not happy with the increment as they were expecting more funds after waiting for 12 years.
Meanwhile, Paschim Banga Sanatan Trust General Services head Sridhar Mishra, while speaking to News18, said: “See, we don’t know who is getting what but no government thought about us till date. Whatever we get, we are happy as Banerjee has thought about us.” The chief minister had also declared that this year, the Durga Puja committee will get Rs 70,000 instead of the Rs 60,000 they received last year.
Not convinced with the dole, BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari said: “Purohits don’t need her money. She is doing this for politics. No minorities received benefits of development here.”
Justifying her decision to start stipend for religious leaders, Banerjee said: “They work very hard. If there is a riot, they help. They also help in programmes such as polio awareness and that’s why both Imams and Purohits get stipend.”
Kamalika SenguptaKamalika Sengupta, Editor, Digital East of News18, is a multilingual journalist with 16 years of experience in covering the northeast, with specialisa…Read More