After Congress, BJP promises free Jerusalem trip to senior citizens in Nagaland
In a bid to woo voters in Christian-majority Nagaland ahead of this month’s assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday promised free trips to Jerusalem for senior citizens.
“Set up senior citizen board that will annually select around 50 members through lucky draw for a free trip to Holy Land of Jerusalem,” the party manifesto released in Dimapur on Friday stated. The poll promise comes a month after the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre scrapped subsidy to Muslims going on Haj pilgrimage to Mecca.
In its manifesto released earlier this week, the Congress had promised to set up a board “to facilitate minorities to visit Holy Land at a subsidised cost”. Nagaland goes to polls on February 27. The BJP is contesting from 20 of the total 60 seats, while its ally Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party is fighting on the others. Only 18 Congress candidates are in fray.
The move to woo voters with promises of subsidised or free pilgrimages, however, has not been welcomed by influential church organisations. “Parties are playing with religious sentiments of people. It is surprising that the BJP, which stopped Haj subsidies, is promising free trips to Jerusalem in Nagaland,” said Rev Zelhou Keyho, general secretary of the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC).
The organisation, which represents nearly 1,500 Baptist churches in Nagaland, urged parties to spend money on development and requested voters not to get deceived by “cheap politics”.