AP government showers largesse on Christians for pilgrimage; Complaint filed with Niti Ayog and Finance Ministry
The Andhra government has more than 15 schemes aimed at the Christian community, one of the highest in the country. Yet, the government continues to appease the community with targeted schemes at the cost of the financial health of the state.
The Andhra Pradesh government has continued its policy to appease Christians at the cost of the exchequer. After announcing a bounty of Rs. 5000 per month to Christian pastors in the state in September, CM Jagan's YSRCP government largesse to the Christians does not seen to end. Now, the state government has increase the financial assistance to the Christian Pilgrimage to visit Holy Land of Jerusalem and other Biblical places by a whopping 50%.
The assistance has been enhanced from an amount of Rs.40,000 to Rs.60,000 for Christians whose annual income is upto Rs.3.00 Lakhs. Those pilgrims whose annual income is above Rs.3.00 Lakhs, the Financial Assistance has been enhanced from Rs.20,000 to Rs.30,000. The Minority Welfare department has already issued a GO on Tuesday with this effect.
New Pilgrimage sites added
The government order released over the largesse says that, 4 new places have been added to the list of Christian pilgrimage sites. The new ones added are Madaba Church of Apostles, Virgin Mary Tomb, Solomon's Temple and Mount Moriah along with the existing one of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jordan River, Dead Sea and Sea of Galilee. The GO has also enhanced the tour period from eight days and seven nights to 10 days and nine nights for 'smooth' conduct of the pilgrimage.
This liberal donation for the Christian cause was started by Chandrababu Naidu in 2013 when the amount of assistance was limited to Rs. 20,000.
Complaint filed with Niti Ayog and Finance Ministry
After the move to appease Christians in the state using governments money, 2 prominent Legal NGOs have filed complaint over the AP governments order. Legal Rights Observatory (LRO) and Legal Rights Protection Forum (LRPF) have complained to the Ministry of Finance and Niti Ayog to intervene in the matter.
The complaint requests for intervention of Ministry of Finance in the matter of steep hikes in Financial Perks for Christians by the Government of Andhra Pradesh. "At a time when Central Govt is undertaking measures to end religious subsidies to pilgrimage like Haz, this move is going to lead Andhra Pradesh into economic meltdown. At this crucial point the NITI Ayog and Finance Ministry need to intervene and pull up Andhra Pradesh government for the same.", reads the letter.
LRO and LPRF further write that throwing perks to religious minorities for political gains are going to exert negative impact on the both state and national economy and sought immediate intervention and desist the government of AP from implementing the hike in such perks.
While TDP and Chandrababu Naidu are expectedly silent as they were the originators of the scheme, BJP has strongly objected to such largesse. BJP leader Lanka Dinakaran has slammed Jagan Reddy's govt for using public money for Christian pilgrimage tours. He said that Reddy's government is trying to woo minority community by showering such largesse. "Our Prime Minister has categorically said that people should be assisted irrespective of caste, religion, etc. Also the slogan 'Sabka sath - Sabka vikas - Sabka vishwas'. We are requesting Reddy to maintain equality rather than few to woo them for vote bank politics," he said.
AP Government Schemes aimed at Christians
The AP government has been very benevolent to shower the Christian community with generous donations with the money from the state's exchequer. While enhancing the financial assistance for pilgrimage is the latest, many other schemes are in place aimed to appease the community. Some of them are below:
- Dulhan Scheme, for providing financial assistance of Rs.50,000/- to each girl belonging to the Minority at the time of Marriage residing at Andhra Pradesh State
- Pre Matric scholarships are sanctioned to the students studying from class 6th to 10th.
- Post matric scholarships to the students of Intermediate, Graduation, Post Graduation and Professional Courses
- Reimbursement of Tuition Fee of the students whose parent's/guardian's income is below Rs 1.00 lakh per annum
- Pre Matric Scholarships to students studying in a Government or Recognized Private Schools from Class I to Class X
- Post Matric Scholarships are awarded to the students, pursuing studies from Class XI to PhD
- Merit-cum-Means based scholarships to students pursuing technical or professional courses at underGraduate/Postgraduate level.
- Unemployed youth are trained in job and self employment oriented courses such as DTP, Hotel Management
- Free Coaching for Competitive Exams and assistance by way of coaching fees, study material and employment information to eligible candidates.
- Subsidy for Bank Linked Income Generated Schemes where the government provides a subsidy @ 50% of the total loan
- Financial Assistance for Construction/ Renovation/ Repairs to Churches
- Financial Assistance to Christian Hospitals, School Buildings, Orphanages, Old Age Homes, Community Halls-cum-Youth and Resource Centers;
- Financial assistance for Youth Awareness Programmes and promotion of Christian Culture.
- Financial Assistance to Christian Burial Grounds
- Financial Assistance to Christian Pilgrimage