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BJP Offers Christians a Pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Is Religious Pilgrimage A New Playground For The Political Parties?

This would not be the first time that India has bankrolled pilgrimages for the Christians. Before this, the government had subsidized the Haj pilgrimage for the Muslim community

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In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented. Wikimedia Commons
In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented. Wikimedia Commons
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  • The political parties (BJP and Congress ) are promising a free trip to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage in the coming local elections of the eastern states of India
  • The Christian population in Meghalaya and Nagaland is almost 75 percent and 88 percent respectively
  • After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner by 2022

The Campaign promises during the elections times are quite bizarre nowadays, from “I’ll cut your taxes,” to “vote for me, and I’ll set you free.”

In the coming local elections in the Christian- majority state of Nagaland in India the agenda by the rival BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and Congress parties are unique: “Vote for us and get either a free or a heavily subsidized pilgrimage to Jerusalem.”

Yes, you read it right. The political parties are promising a free trip to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage. The offer has been put up by the Prime Minister Modi- led BJP for the upcoming elections. Even the local partners of the Congress party are treading up the same path.

Recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons
Recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons

The BJP has not made it clear yet if it is offering the scheme to all of India’s Christians, or only to Christians in the northeast, or only to Christians in Nagaland. The Christian population in Meghalaya and Nagaland is almost 75 percent and 88 percent respectively. Nagaland is one of smallest states of India, with the population of just under two million people.

Also Read: Muslim women can now travel for Haj without Mahram

As per the Tourism Ministry figures, around 58,000 Indian tourists came to Israel in 2017, a 47% increase from 2015.

The elections are scheduled for the February 27 in three northeastern states – Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura – later this month.

The AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi also tweeted on the double standard of the government and lashed out at the government for its discriminatory decision, ending Haj subsidy but allowing subsidies to continue for Hindu pilgrimages like the Mansarovar Yatra.

This would not be the first time that India has bankrolled pilgrimages for the Christians. Before this, the government had subsidized the Haj pilgrimage for the Muslim community. But recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. The government cited the reason for the subsidy withdrawal as they wanted to utilise the funds saved from withdrawing the subsidy for the education of minorities, particularly girls. After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner by 2022.

Also Read: Government ends Haj subsidy as part of a new policy

The scheme is a clear cut example of hypocrisy and opportunism, especially considering the cancellation of Haj subsidies. It seems quite contrary, on the one hand, the government is cutting down the benefit scheme for one section of the society and on the other hand, some other community is been offered the same thing. Such moves bring out the double standards of the political parties just for the sake of vote bank. In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented.

In 2011, Nigeria also did something same as that of India. For many years, their government financed a trip to Mecca for Muslims, leading to some 42,000 Nigerians visiting the country. But with the change in the government, subsidies have been cut considerably and now a 12-day pilgrimage costs around 2000 dollars. The change in stance has resulted in 78% decrease from 2011.

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Narendra Modi Accuses Congress of Aiding Those Who Want to Weaken Army

Again, the Prime Minister said "some people" felt ashamed of shouting "Bharat Mata ki Jai"

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According to LocalCircles, each person who voted in the survey is registered with the portal with their detailed information and in many cases they shared their residential address.
Congress helping those who want to weaken Army: Modi, wikimedia commons

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday accused the Congress of aiding those who he said want to weaken the Indian Army and raising questions over the government and even the Supreme Court over Rafale fighter jets.

“Today, there are two camps in the country. One is the government that is trying to strengthen our Army. The other wants to weaken our Army at any cost,” Modi said, flagging off the 900th coach of Modern Rail Factory and a Humsafar Rake in Rae Bareli, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituency.

“The country has been witnessing that the Congress stands by those powers who don’t want our armed forces to be strengthened,” he added, in an obvious reference to Sonia Gandhi’s son and Congress President Rahul Gandhi who has been accusing corruption in the Rafale jet deal with France.

The Prime Minister said the country was watching “such people” who he added were “getting support of countries pitted against India”.

“What is the reason that people in Pakistan clap when some of our leaders speak?”

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi (Wikimedia Commons)

The Prime Minister pointedly accused the Congress of raising questions over the dignity of the Defence Ministry, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Air Force, France and the Supreme Court over the purchase of Rafale jet aircraft.

“Some people only accept lies and speak lies. For them the country’s Defence Ministry, Defence Minster and Air Force officers are liars. The French government is also a liar. Now, the country’s Supreme Court is also a liar for them.

“But truth does not need ‘shringaar’ and lies will always die. The country will never forgive the Congress over its attitude towards the Army.”

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Again, the Prime Minister said “some people” felt ashamed of shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.

“What kind of people are they who do not care about the country? I know that they want to abuse Modi. They want to frame Modi for corruption. But I want to know why they have put the country’s pride at stake for this? Why is national security being put on stake?” (IANS)