Among the promises the Bharatiya Janata Party is making while campaigning in poll-bound Nagaland is a free trip for Christians to Jerusalem, The Hindu reported on Tuesday. “We plan to send groups of senior Christian citizens to Jerusalem if our party comes to power,” Nagaland BJP spokesperson James Vizo told the newspaper.
The Congress, meanwhile, has promised voters in the Christian-dominated state a subsidy for the trip. Nagaland Assembly polls are on February 27.
The offer from the BJP, which is contesting the elections as an ally of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, comes a week after the Nagaland Baptist Church Council warned voters against Hindutva forces in the state. “We cannot deny that the Hindutva movement in the country has become strong and invasive in the past few years with the BJP, the political wing of the RSS, in power,” the council wrote in its letter to presidents of all political parties.
Some other reports said it was unclear if the BJP’s offer of a free trip to Jerusalem applied only to Christians in Nagaland or also to the other two poll-bound states in the North East – Tripura and Meghalaya. Meghalaya will vote on February 27 along with Nagaland, and Tripura will have its polls on February 18.
Political leaders criticised the BJP’s announcement, especially as it came just weeks after the government cancelled Haj subsidies for Muslims. “I was right, BJP continues with subsidy if it suits its electoral needs,” All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi said on Twitter.