Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy | ANI File photo
Text Size:

Hyderabad: In the nearly six months since he took over as Andhra Pradesh chief minister, Y.S.R. Jagan Mohan Reddy has taken several decisions for the Christian community in the state, drawing criticism from the opposition.

While Andhra Pradesh has had a department in operation for decades to provide benefits to minority communities, the incentives for Christians now are seen as being open-handed from a CM belonging to the same community.

Reddy and his family hailing from Kadapa district of Rayalaseema are followers of Christianity.

Earlier this week, Reddy’s government enhanced financial assistance to Christian pilgrims visiting Jerusalem in Israel and other Biblical places from Rs 40,000 to Rs 60,000 (for those with annual income up to Rs 3 lakh), and from Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 (for those with annual income over Rs 3 lakh).

The latest move comes on the back of an order issued on 27 August, when Reddy’s government allowed the state sponsored tour period of the Biblical places to be enhanced from eight to 10 days.

In its order, the government also permitted the Christian pilgrims from the state availing the scheme to visit four more places — Madaba Church of the Apostles (Jordan), Virgin Mary Tomb, Solomon’s Temple and Mount Moriah (all in Israel).

Reddy’s decisions were announced soon after his return from his first visit abroad to Jerusalem along with his family in August.


Also read: With practical lessons & Rs 12,000 crore, Jagan plans big govt school shift to English medium


‘Burdening the exchequer’

Reddy’s “personal” trip to Jerusalem came under fire from the opposition after the Andhra Pradesh government spent Rs 22.5 lakh on it, stating that cost was towards security arrangements.

The statement came even after an earlier state government order about the Ministry of External Affairs’ approval for the trip had said that the visit was “purely personal and the expenditure shall be borne by the dignitary”.

“Public money is being utilised for a personal religious visit undertaken by the CM, burdening the exchequer,” Lanka Dinakar, a BJP leader who was with the TDP earlier, had said. TDP activists too raised such questions on social media.

In August, the Reddy government issued another order to provide for an honorarium of Rs 5,000 per month for pastors. To know their numbers in the state for budget allocation and allowance disbursal, the government has asked the district collectors to enumerate the pastors through a survey.

While the process is underway, the government is preparing to fulfill other YSR Congress Party manifesto promises for the Christian community — like plots and house construction for pastors, and financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh for wedding of Christian girls, among others.

The BJP has criticised such moves “as deplorable, and as case of state sponsored religious conversions”.

Right-wing activists allege Reddy’s regime as becoming conducive for conversions, rise in the number of church buildings — legally or illegally — in the state.

Video posts on social media recently alleged evangelical activities as being carried out in village/ward secretariat buildings inaugurated by the YSRCP government.

Shifting from its neutral position on religious matters, opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP also has lately been implicitly accusing Jagan as pro-Christian and anti-Hindu.

‘Not doing anything special’

Speaking to ThePrint, Md Illiyas Rizvi, principal secretary, minority welfare department said, “The schemes and financial aid for Christians in the state are similar to what Muslims and other religious minorities receive like the Haj pilgrim assistance.

“For that matter, these benefits are same like what the poor among the majority community receive in the state. Pastors’ houses initiative broadly falls under the housing schemes for the poor category; likewise is the wedding assistance for Christian girls,” Rizvi said.

“Our government is not doing anything special or out of turn for the Christians,” Rizvi told ThePrint.

According to officials, Andhra Pradesh has seven lakh Christians, constituting about 1.4 per cent of the total population as per 2011 Census.

However, the number of followers of the faith is estimated to be higher in the state. “Many among the Scheduled Castes (especially in Coastal Andhra), have embraced Christianity while remaining Hindus on paper. They are ineligible for Christian benefits,” an official in the minority welfare department said.

Reddy’s father Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy — also a devout Christian, who had also visited Bethlehem and prayed at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem during his tenure as the CM of united Andhra Pradesh — never faced such religion based censure.

“This shows that the criticism now is to target Jagan on religious grounds,” the official above who didn’t wish to be named said.


Also read: Jagan govt dumps Naidu project to develop Singapore-like financial hub in Amaravati


 

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And have just turned three.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous and questioning journalism. Please click on the link below. Your support will define ThePrint’s future.

Support Our Journalism

17 Comments Share Your Views

17 COMMENTS

  1. Not only sometimes but i always think that being born as a hindu in this country is a sin. 😭😭😭
    what this country has did for us??? nothing but only conversions & persecution & kashmiri pandit refugees.
    but still i cannot & should not say anything bcoz after all my dharma teaches to respect the country where u born even if it India or something else.

  2. I request our Hindu politicians plz don’t allow CM post to others how you pepole keepquite Christ religion converting Hindu pepole

  3. What shame on Hindus that they vote a cm which is anti-hindu. It looks like they taken this type of things lightly.

  4. 1% is a joke. Real Christian population percentage will be around 30-40%. Rampant government sponsored conversions are happening in AP. They spread hate against Hindus in Churches. In few years, Hindus will be minorities in our own motherland. Modi should implement anti-conversion law and remove all the religion based reservations.

  5. Basically rice bag converts. And its not that hindus are zombies of church. Its just that we have strict policies to stop spread of corona virus from entering our mother land which is the most purest and the only real. Why do your people practice indian discovered yoga, meditation, ayurveda and reach out to our gurus to practise spirituality. This is a hindu nation, and hopelessly it was declared a secular nation by indira gandhi, we better shall revert it back to the same status as being a hindu nation to get rid of unwanted parasites in this country.

  6. This moron Jagan by his activities in Tirupati and Sacking LV Subrahmanyam need to be fought in every street corner and needs to be hunted as mad dog, time is now. There needs to be mass level Hindu revolution against enemy of Hindus

  7. Christians donate %of income to church. Has jagan done it. Charity should start at home.. Why all the Hindu preists not given Rs5000, why dosent sponser all poor Hindus for gangotri, kashi, Prayag Gaya , Madhura, Meenakshi, etc and most popular Hindu Shrines.Is this not enough to proove 100% only christian attitude of Jagan.

  8. Mother Haters. Try to respect people who believe their own choice of Religion. Or ban the fundamental right – right to choose your own religuon. Why do yo cry if a person is Christian or Muslim. YOU people believe in dumbos like nityananda and shit.. waste lot of money on idols and idol worshipping. So brahmins always comment on Christians.Nothing Official about it. JAGAN IS CHRISTIAN BY HIS OWN CHOICE APART FROM HIS FAMILY BEING THAT. CANT HE BE CM TO RULE. LOT OF HINDUS DO BELIEVE IN CHRIST AS THEIR PERSONAL SAVIOUR. EVERY ONE DONT CONVERT. BELIEF IS ENOUGH. SO KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT AND START RESPECTING ,FORGIVING OTHERS AND TREATING OTHERS WELL. MAY BE YOU HAVE BAD PARENTING IN THIS SECULAR COUNTRY..

  9. Not only in AP, large numbers of people all over India practice Christianity but remain Hindus on paper to avail reservation benefits. Govt should identify and strip benefits from such closet Christians in the proposed NRC across the country.

  10. Why this thug use Hindu name? The cryptos should be given warning that either they do not hobnob with the foreign religion or face the wrath. If you are Hindu then you must remain so.

    Regarding state funded foreign religious tour, it should be banned. If they want to follow foreign religion then leave this country else revert to Dharmic faith.

    • Sure, you moron , can we also ask all Hindus to emigrate back to India and not send their children abroad for jobs or education and not eat food / wear clothes/ eat medicines or avail hospital facilities these foreigners brought to India

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here