Congress leader plea to Hemant Soren on namaz room
The furore over the allotment of a room for namaz in the Jharkhand Assembly refuses to die down though the Speaker has formed a committee to look into the issue.
While MLAs have fiercely put forward their respective views, either for or against the allotment of the room, and at least two of them engaged in a verbal duel outside the House, Ajoy Kumar, a former MP and state Congress president, on Friday suggested that not all in his party, a constituent of the ruling dispensation in Jharkhand, are happy with the arrangement.
Kumar, also the Congress in-charge for Tripura, Nagaland and Sikkim, wrote a letter to chief minister Hemant Soren on Friday requesting “our government” to keep politics and religion separate.
“In view of the recent happenings involving religious issues in Jharkhand Assembly, I request our government to keep religion and politics separate,” Kumar said in his letter in Hindi.
“The Assembly is a temple of democracy and should be kept apart from religious practices,” he further said, adding that “religious practices and political affairs should not be mixed up though religion had been playing an important role in politics for a long time now”.
“There would be chances of unrest if a political party extends support to a particular religion,” he cautioned, adding that it might come in the way of treating everyone equally and working for overall development.
The Assembly, in a notification issued on September 2, allotted a room within its new premises for offering namaz, an issue on which BJP members virtually paralysed the House through the brief monsoon session that began the very next day.
While the BJP legislators disrupted the House proceedings on all the five working days, the party supporters tried to reach the Assembly by breaking barricades on Wednesday leading to the police using water cannons and then batons to disperse them.
The administration later lodged an FIR against 28 BJP leaders and about 1,200 unidentified others, slapping various charges like violating norms of the disaster management law, spreading communal hatred and encouraging violence.
Speaker Rabindra Nath Mahto then formed a seven-member all-party committee to look into the namaz room issue and submit a report within 45 days.
But the MLAs, speaking to the media outside, strongly advocated their party’s stand as Randhir Singh of the BJP and Irfan Ansari of the Congress got engaged in a verbal duel.
Inder Singh Namdhari, Jharkhand’s first Assembly Speaker, and one of his successors Shashank Shekhar Bhokta had dismissed it as a non-issue as they said the namaz room was part of the undivided Bihar Assembly. The Jharkhand Assembly has also had a namaz room since the state was carved out of Bihar in 2000, they added.
“The practice continued even when BJP MLAs became Assembly Speakers,” Bhokta had said, naming C.P. Singh and M.P. Singh of the BJP.
“I consider the namaz room issue unimportant,” said former BJP minister and now Independent MLA Saryu Roy. He said that it is laughable that former ministers who once patronised the practice of offering namaz within the Assembly premises were now staging dharna to protest it.
“It was like giving an easy catch to the opponents when the match was at a crucial stage,” a mediaperson commented on the timing of the notification to allocate a namaz room, adding that the practice was always there but the BJP found an issue to disrupt the proceedings of the House.