Setting a new benchmark in religious populism,the BJP government on Thursday announced that it would pay for the pilgrimage of at least one lakh senior citizens every year.
Under the scheme,called Mukhyamantri Teertha-Darshan Yojana,which was cleared by the Cabinet today,the senior citizens will be allowed to take attendants,whose expenses will be covered as well.
Madhya Pradesh is the only state that subsidises travel to holy places in Pakistan (Nankana Saheb shrine and Hinglaj Mata temple),China (Mansarovar),Cambodia (Angkor Vat) and Sri Lanka (Sita Mandir and Ashok Vatika).
Though the subsidy schemes for the shrines located in other countries have been around for some time,few have benefited from them,partly due to lack of publicity but mainly because the potential beneficiaries have to bear half the expense.
The latest subsidy will cover holy places within the country. Besides several Hindu temples,it will cover one place each associated with Islam,Jainism,Sikhism,Christianity and Buddhism.
A cabinet sub-committee was formed on Thursday to frame the rules for the latest populist measure announced by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.
The CM has already indicated that a separate allocation will be made in the supplementary budget this year.