VIJAYAWADA: Refuting the allegations of BJP leaders who termed the YSRC government’s promise to pay a monthly honorarium to pastors “State-sponsored religious propaganda”, the State government has made public a memo, dated August 20, issued for the implementation of welfare initiatives for Hindu temples and archakas (priests).
The BJP, which is looking to grow in Andhra Pradesh, has been criticising the YSRC government by making allegations along communal lines. After the saffron party’s State president Kanna Lakshminarayana accused the YSRC of favouring a religion by paying public money as a monthly honorarium, the party’s national general secretary and AP in-charge Sunil Deodhar on Wednesday found fault with the payment of Rs 5,000 honorarium to pastors. “Its blasphemous on the part of a government to favour one religion over another using state government funds, especially when pastors mock and proselytize deprived and poor people of other religion. Monthly stipend to pastors will add fuel to fire. What’s ur real agenda @ysjagan? (sic)” he tweeted.
However, the government sources maintained that the memo, issued by Special Chief Secretary (Revenue) Manmohan Singh, on August 20 itself, asking the endowments commissioner to obtain particulars relating to archakas across all districts for implementing the welfare initiatives promised in the ruling party’s manifesto. The memo by minorities welfare department asking district collectors for details of pastors was issued on August 27.
As per the Special Chief Secretary’s memo, the initiatives to be immediately implemented include dispensing the system of retirement to archakas, enhancement of remuneration to archakas working in 6(c) temples at 25 per cent over and above the rates fixed in March 2019, to pay Rs 10,000 to Rs 35,000 for Dhoopa Deepa Naivedyam in temples and remuneration to archakas based on population of panchayats, and allotment of house sites and construction of houses to archakas.
BJP feigns ignorance
After the memo was made public, the BJP leaders feigned ignorance claiming that they were unaware of the memo on archakas. They did not retract their charges. “We are not aware of such a development,” a BJP leader said