Recently, the newly elected Andhra Pradesh government led by YS Jaganmohan Reddy presented its annual budget. A feature of the budget presented by Buggana Rajendranath, Minister for Finance, which stood out distinctly was the allocation of a huge amount of public money for Imams and Christian Pastors. The government allotted a total of 2,106 crore rupees for minority welfare schemes in the budget.
“The honorarium to Imams is proposed to be enhanced to Rs 10,000 per month and of Mouzzans to Rs. 5,000 per month. Similarly, it is proposed to provide Pastors with an honorarium Rs. 5,000 per month,” said the finance minister of Andhra Pradesh in the budget speech. This was seen as a big step towards minority appeasement by the newly elected government out of taxpayers’ money.
Now, the Reddy government has come under fire again. This time around it has come under fire for extravagant state expenditure over Jagan Reddy and his family’s private visit to Jerusalem in Israel. BJP leader, Lanka Dinakar, has come down heavily on the Andhra Pradesh government for releasing funds to the tune of Rs 22.52 lakh on chief minister’s security on the four-day visit. He asked, “Why is public money is being used for a private visit by the chief minister and his family?”
The general administration department issued the order for releasing this hefty amount to Triple S. Tours and Travels, Israel, to make the security arrangements. It must be noted that earlier an order issued on July 26, had mentioned that Jagan’s visit was purely personal and he would bear the expenditure of the personal trip. Another order issued on the same day, gave permission to Sivaraj Senthil Kumar, Superintendent of Police, to visit Jerusalem in advance from July 29.
A Joshi, Chief Security Officer to the Chief Minister, has also been granted permission to visit Israel along with the chief minister and oversee the security arrangements. Jagan Reddy and his family would visit the holy sites associated with Christianity in Jerusalem. This is seen as a thanksgiving visit after YSRCP’s unprecedented success at the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh held earlier this year.
Recently, a special CBI court granted permission to Jagan Reddy to travel to Israel and the USA between August 1 and August 25. Jagan Reddy and Vijaysai Reddy are out on bail in cases registered against them by the CBI in 2011.