Days after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) reacted strongly to a decision of the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh to pay Rs 5,000 as a monthly honorarium to pastors, the YSRCP clarified that Hindu priests and Muslim clerics were also extended similar benefits.
An order was issued on August 27 from the minorities welfare department, which asked all district collectors to enumerate the pastors through village volunteers and submit a report within 15 days. The BJP took up the issue and alleged that the government was aligning with one faith and making others feel like outsiders.
However, sources in the YSRCP clarified that there were notes sent to different departments. While one note went to the Minority Welfare Department, another went to the Endowment Department. Sources said that this had resulted in a misunderstanding, on which the BJP cashed in, by being selective in its outrage.
The YSRCP also pointed out that the scheme had been implemented by the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government, and they had just increased the honorarium given to all religious heads.
The note sent to the Endowments Department states that the the state government had decided to enhance the renumeration for archakas (Hindu priests) to 25%, over and above the rates fixed in a Government Order issued in March 2019. It also decided to allot house sites and construct houses for them.
"The Commissioner, Endowments Department is requested to obtain particulars relating to the above said items from all the districts, at the earliest, and submit to the Government for taking further necessary action in the matter," the note states.
BJP leaders have been upping the ante, alleging that Jagan, a Christian, visited Hindu temples during elections only to garner votes.