Tuesday March 19, 2019
Home India BJP Offers Ch...

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

0
//
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
  • 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.

Next Story

Fiery Political Content Arriving on Social Media

The game is set to go dirty, with more and more politicians taking jibes and trading barbs on social media platforms, which will then be reworked upon by creative agencies to flood Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter

0
india elections, voting
A query to the poll panel on how it plans to stop social media platforms from broadcasting campaign material ahead of polling went unanswered. Pixabay

Political parties have gone 24/7 on creating election-special content like issue-based memes, jokes, GIFs and short-format videos to bombard various social media platforms and woo millions of voters.

According to social media experts, while issues like unemployment, farmer distress, Rafale deal and demonetisation would dominate the social media content for the opposition, the Modi-led NDA government is aiming to highlight the Balakot air strike and poverty alleviation.

“Some political parties have appointed social media ‘warriors’ to reach out to the public on digital platforms. They are working round-the-clock as political content aggregators, preparing fiery content for social media trollers,” says social media expert Anoop Mishra.

The bombardment is likely to begin from next week and would only gain momentum as the voting process inches closer.

The rise in popularity of social media platforms has also opened up a relatively new advertising economy driven by “influencer marketing”.

There was a little slump in their activities, say experts, after the Cobrapost investigation last month revealed that several Bollywood celebrities were willing to pass views of political parties as personal opinions for money.

The dust is now settled and the army of social media “influencers” are again out to spread the propaganda of political parties.

The trend to reach out to their voters via social media platforms has caught up with many politicians, the recent ones being Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who are now on Twitter.

vote
This not even social media players are sure of as, in their own words, there is much more to be done on this front. Pixabay

“Parties like Congress and the BJP have shared a WhatsApp number which people can directly use to connect to the party.

“Every major party and its leaders now have Twitter handle and can often be seen making parodies and memes mocking each other to connect quickly with the youth,” said Mishra.

Congress can now often be seen live-streaming their rallies on Facebook.Regional parties have spruced up their social media presence too.

Till the voting process begins, the social media platforms would turn into a battleground for the political parties.

“The post and ad frequencies would be 10 to 20 times higher than normal days. The parties would try to woo users on emotional sentiments and finally engaging them by trying to change their perception,” Mishra noted.

Also Read- Here’s How to Boost up Businesses in Times of Evolving Tech

There are no two opinions about the fact that political discourse is going to be impacted by social media and the consequences of this can be serious as social media platforms are already being used to create a highly-polarised atmosphere in the country.

The game is set to go dirty, with more and more politicians taking jibes and trading barbs on social media platforms, which will then be reworked upon by creative agencies to flood Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. (IANS)