In an unprecedented move, the Akhilesh Yadav government has granted a special subsidy of Rs 25,000 to Hindu pilgrims returning from the Mansarovar yatra. Sharat Pradhan reports
Having gone all-out to woo Muslims, who form a key constituency of the ruling Samajwadi Party, the Akhilesh Yadav government is now trying to appease the Hindu vote bank.
As if to match the subsidies and freebies granted to Muslims going for the ‘Haj’, the UP government on Monday gave away a special subsidy of Rs 25,000 to Hindu pilgrims returning from Mansarovar.
The unprecedented gesture has grabbed the attention of political parties, who called it another “gimmick” of the Samajwadi Party at a time when the Lok Sabha elections are not very far off.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav personally handed over cheques of Rs 25,000 each to the pilgrims returning from the Manasarovar Yatra. While there were only 31 beneficiaries of this special subsidy, the gesture was clearly aimed at sending a message that Muslims alone were not on the Samajwadi Party’s list of favourites.
The pilgrims hailed from different states of Himachal, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Delhi.
The function was marked with fanfare at the chief minister’s official residence in Lucknow.
The move was apparently prompted on account of the common impression that the Samajwadi Party had gone overboard in its bid to appease the Muslims. Apart from the subsidies given to Haj pilgrims, among the first few things announced by the one-year-old Akhilesh government, was a special grant of Rs 30,000 to all Muslim girls passing class X.
It was only as an afterthought that a similar scheme was subsequently devised for girls belonging to other religions, subject to a prescribed income level.
The decision to now give a special subsidy to Mansarovar pilgrims was seen by SP critics as playing the religion card. “The Samajwadi Party government has just found another way to woo Hindus, who were left high and dry on account of the government’s policy of Muslim appeasement,” remarked a senior Bahujan Samaj Party leader.
“But we are confident that everyone can see through the Samajwadi Party game and such gimmicks will not impress anyone,” he added.