It is not often when the Chief Minister of a state is found to tacitly support Christian evangelists and aid religious conversions. Ever since Jaganmohan Reddy was elected to power in Andhra Pradesh, the state has witnessed an unprecedented amount of political appeasement as Reddy opened the state’s coffers for the imams and the pastors. Its latest move to hike the financial aid for Jerusalem pilgrims by a whopping 50% is just one of the many steps that the Jagan government has taken which exposes the government’s religious bias.
The Andhra Pradesh government on Tuesday enhanced the financial assistance to Christians for undertaking the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and other Biblical places and it said that pilgrims with an annual income of up to Rs 3 lakh would be given Rs 60,000 for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jordan River, Dead Sea and Sea of Galilee and those with an income of over Rs 3 lakh would get Rs 30,000, up from Rs 20,000 as per the order issued by Minorities Welfare Department Principal Secretary Mohd. Ilyas Rizvi.The assistance was last enhanced to Rs 40,000 which was fixed by the then Chandrababu Naidu government in 2016.
Jagan is a Christian by religion and has been indulging in Christian and Muslim appeasement since coming to power. Recently, the Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation reportedly issued tickets to travellers from Tirupati to the temple town of Tirumala with advertisements of Haj and Jerusalem pilgrimage on the back. Travellers seem to have been agitated by this development and they reportedly raised the issue before the regional manager who stated that a bundle with printed material about non-Hindu pilgrimage had wrongly come to Tirupati. It must be kept in mind that Tirupati is a major Hindu shrine. This incident preceded Reddy’s act of refusing to lit Diyas during his visit to the US and his act is a proof of Reddy’s treachery when just like Rahul Gandhi, he too went on a temple run before the elections in Andhra Pradesh.
Reddy who is a first time Chief Minister had high hopes riding on him as he secured a brute majority in Andhra Pradesh. But it seems that Reddy’s evangelist side has taken precedence as in his first budget for the state, his government controversially allocated a huge amount of public money for Imams and Christian Pastors. “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. The government allotted a total of 2,106 crore rupees for minority welfare schemes in the budget.
Reddy again stroked controversy as he undertook an extravagant trip to Jerusalem with his family, which was of course on taxpayer’s money 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.
The fact that the Chief Minister of an Indian state is openly batting for a certain religion will set a dangerous precedent and is a cause of great concern for the state’s Hindus who have witnessed both Naidu and Reddy take them for a ride by preaching minority appeasement.