In order to plug misuse of recommendations for Haj pilgrims, the Centre plans to fix quota for the parliamentarians and issue them unique numbers. The quota for each MP will be proportionate to the Muslim population of his constituency or the state (in case of Rajya Sabha).
According to top sources, The MPs will get letters with unique numbers for their choice of pilgrims under the quota. This quota is applied for the poor Muslims, who undertake the pilgrimage on government subsidy.
“This will help us keep a tab on the quota of each MP and its utilisation. If the number of Haj requests stay within quota, all pilgrims will get a chance to visit Mecca. If it exceeds, there is no guarantee for a seat” said a top UPA source.
The provocation for fixing quotas and issuing numbers came after many forged MP letters were discovered.
“Last year, we found five letters from one MP with five different signatures,” said an official in the Haj cell of the ministry of external affairs.
Parliamentarians too favour the new measures.
“Our quota helps genuine poor pilgrims. MPs too, must exercise self-restraint as there are people who try to bribe us to get recommendation letters,” says CPM MP Mainul Hassan.
This year 1,71,491 seats were allotted to India, of which 1,25,850 seats were earmarked for the Haj committee of India (HCOI) and the rest for private tour operators.
Out of 1,25,850 seats meant for HCOI, 11,000 seats are earmarked for government quota for poor Muslims.
The UPA government will also automatically send applicants above 70 years of age along with a companion this year. People who missed out in last three years’ lottery will also be compulsorily included.