The Tamil Nadu government, on Wednesday, opposed the Centre’s move to end the Haj subsidy given to Muslims, saying that it will ask the government to “reconsider this”.
Speaking to media persons, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami said, “I have just seen the news that the Centre has rejected the Haj subsidy. We will ask the Centre to reconsider this.”
The subsidy was created to help Muslims undertake the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca, in order to fulfil their religious duties as stipulated in Islam. It can be traced back to the British-era practice of giving assistance to pilgrims who gathered from across India at the sea ports of Bombay and Calcutta. Upon Independence, the subsidy continued under the Haj Committee Act of 1959.
Slamming the Central government’s move, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Working President MK Stalin tweeted, “The regressive decision of BJP led Central Government to end #Hajjsubsidy, in spite of its constitutionally having been upheld by the Supreme Court is condemnable. The efforts by BJP to alter our nation’s trajectory away from its secular ideals is insidious.”
The regressive decision of BJP led Central Government to end #Hajjsubsidy, in spite of its constitutionality having been upheld by the Supreme Court is condemnable. The efforts by BJP to alter our nation's trajectory away from its secular ideals is insidious.— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) January 17, 2018
The subsidy is one of the many government grants given across India. These include subsidies by the state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Karnataka to Hindu pilgrims undertaking various holy journeys across their states.
In addition to the ruling AIADMK, other prominent parties have also condemned the cancellation. According to a report in a Tamil news channel, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President S Thirunavukkarasar, President of Tamil Maanila Congress GK Vasan, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Chief Vaiko, Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam Chief Vijayakanth, Pattali Makkal Katchi Chief S Ramadoss, Thamimun Ansari of Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi were among those who condemned the move.
While the amount of subsidy given has been reducing steadily over the years, with 200 crores being given for in 2016, some others have questioned the move in light of the government-owned Air India charging a marked-up amount, which is not reflective of a return airfare according to market prices.