CPM, Owaisi slam govt. for end to Haj subsidy

New Delhi: Opposition parties attacked the Modi government on January 17 for its decision to end Haj subsidy and to divert the funds to other welfare schemes for minorities.
The CPM, while clarifying that they were in principle opposed to subsidies for all religious pilgrimages, criticized the government for abruptly stopping the Haj subsidy when the Supreme Court had ruled in 2012 that it should be phased out over a 10-year period.
Insinuating that the move was aimed at singling out a community, the CPM politburo said, “The sudden withdrawal of subsidy seems arbitrary and motivated by other considerations.” The CPM also demanded that there should be “no central or state government funding, as it exists today, of providing subsidies and grants for individuals to go on religious pilgrimages”.
AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi said he had always been in favor of ending the Haj subsidy but sought parity in norms for pilgrims of all religions. The Hyderabad MP lashed out at the government for its discriminatory decision, ending Haj subsidy but allowing subsidies to continue for Hindu pilgrimages like the Mansarovar Yatra.
Muslim groups were more cautious in their response. While some welcomed the decision and said it was expected, others said the government should consider floating global tenders for cheaper airfare for Haj pilgrims. Shia Chand Committee’s Maulana Sayyed Abbas Naqvi said he was concerned that the decision would make the government appear hostile to the Muslim community.
Lucknow’s Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahali welcomed the decision and said many Muslim organizations had for long been demanding that the subsidy be done away with. “There should be an open process of tenders for air tickets, I am sure most airlines will agree to scaling down their fares,” he said. Some clerics said they would wait to see what the government did with the Rs 700 crore ‘freed’ as a result of the decision to end subsidy.
Opposition also came from Samajwadi Party. Leader of opposition in UP assembly Ram Govind Chaudhary slammed the decision and said UP government would revoke the cut once SP returned to power in the state.

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