Rahul Gandhi
Congress president Rahul Gandhi with Telangana leaders at AICC headquarter in New Delhi | PTI
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Congress manifesto promises monthly honorarium for imams, salary for temple priests on par with state staff and efforts to get SC status for Dalit Christians.

New Delhi: Accused of adopting soft Hindutva in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the Congress has offered sops to all religious communities in its manifesto for Telangana that goes to polls on 7 December.

From announcing a monthly honorarium for imams and maouzans, promising salaries at par with government employees for temple priests to taking steps to ensure SC status for Dalit Christians, the Congress has sought to appease all sections in its manifesto released in Hyderabad Tuesday.

Stating that it believes in unity in diversity, the Congress has promised the establishment of three finance corporations — Muslim minorities finance corporation, Christian minorities finance corporation and the linguistic and other minorities’ finance corporation.

The party has also promised free power supply to all temples, mosques, churches and other places of worship.

The Congress is in an alliance with the TDP, TJS and the Communist Party of India (CPI), dubbed the Mahakutami, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ruling TRS are contesting independently. The CPI(M), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and a number of smaller parties have joined hands to form the Bahujan Left Front.


Also read: Why BJP is a non-starter in Telangana


‘To protect temples, better salary for priests’

Temples figure repeatedly in the Congress’ 93-page manifesto.

“Congress party will take all measures to protect the sanctity of all temples in Telangana state. Small temples will be developed to provide all facilities to the devotees,” reads the manifesto released by the state unit. “In addition, the Congress party will implement the following things if it wins next elections.”

The party has promised that priests working in 643 temples will be given salaries at par with state government staff. The priests and staff will also be eligible for accident insurance and health cards. Their children working under Hindu Endowment have been promised fee reimbursement benefits.

‘KCR cheated Muslims’

The Congress manifesto accuses Telangana Chief Minister and TRS leader K. Chandrasekhar Rao of cheating Muslims, who constitute about 13 per cent of the state’s population.

“The Wakf Board was not given promised judicial powers and not a single inch of encroached land was restored. Tall claims were made on increasing the budget for minorities welfare,” the party manifesto reads before announcing a slew of measures for “minorities welfare”.

Some of these measures include a Rs 5-lakh financial assistance for eligible minorities to build their own homes, a monthly honorarium of Rs 6,000 for imams and maouzans of mosques and a promise to fill all vacancies in Urdu medium schools.

“Urdu will be strictly implemented as the second official language,” reads the manifesto.

Minority community youth, both skilled and unskilled, will be provided loans of up to Rs 5 lakh at 80 per cent subsidy, while poor minority students will be given Rs 20 lakh assistance for overseas education, the manifesto states.

The party has also promised to take up modernisation of madrasas on a large scale. “Madrasa students will also be given scholarships, clothes and other assistance,” the manifesto states.


Also read: Congress joined hands with TDP in Telangana after online feedback from workers, voters


SC status for Dalit Christians

For the Christian community, the party has said it will take measures to grant Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Christians by adopting a resolution in the state assembly that will be sent to the Centre for approval.

Pastors have also been promised health and accidental insurance of Rs 5 lakh.

They have been promised double bedroom homes or financial assistance to construct them, while their children will be provided free education.

“A better system will be introduced for the release of funds for construction and repairs of Churches. Honorarium will be given to pastors and fathers on par with pujaris of temples and imams/maouzan of mosques,” the manifesto states.

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