After failing to honour their promise of waiving farm loans, the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh has now cancelled the state-sponsored pilgrimage for at least 4000 senior citizens of the state just three days before their religious trip, reports Hindustan Times.
The Kamal Nath-led Madhya Pradesh has decided to cancel the pilgrimage, which is arranged under the ‘Mukhya Mantri Teerth Darshan Yojna’ (chief minister pilgrimage scheme) citing cost-cutting exercise. The decision comes just three days before the trip to Vaishno Devi, Kashi, Dwarka and Rameshwaram.
The first out of the five trains booked for the pilgrimage was scheduled to depart from Bhopal for the Vaishno Devi shrine with 800 passengers on February 15, as per the earlier schedule before the cancellation was announced.
However, the new order issued by the spiritual department of the MP government on February 12 states, “The programme regarding five teerth darshan trains under Mukhyamantri Teerth Darshan Yojna scheduled from February 15 to March 2, is cancelled due to unavoidable circumstances.”
Madhya Pradesh Minister Govind Singh had earlier said that ‘Mukhyamantri Teerth Darshan Yojna’ should be scrapped as it was not the government’s job to conduct religious pilgrimages.
The scheme ‘Mukhyamantri Teerth Darshan Yojna’ was introduced in the year 2012 by the then Shivraj Singh Chouhan led BJP government for non-income tax payee male residents aged 60 and above and women aged 62 years and above.
It is the first time that so many trains were cancelled under the scheme and that too when all the preparations for the journey of the pilgrims had been made and one of the trains was about to depart two days later, an official said.
“The state government is yet to pay Rs 17 crore to the IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) for previous journeys, while a part of the amount was paid. The IRCTC sent several reminders for payment of the outstanding dues to the department of spiritual but still IRCTC was ready to arrange the trains for the pilgrims,” the official added.
The controversy comes amidst the recent confession made by Madhya Pradesh Congress government after it admitted to its own failure to deliver the tall promises of farm loan waiver made by their supremo Rahul Gandhi during the Assembly elections campaign in 2018.
Ahead of assembly elections, the Congress party, and its former President Rahul Gandhi specifically, had repeatedly promised that farmer loan waivers will be granted to all farmers within 10 days of Congress coming to power.
Govind Singh, the General Administration Minister in Kamal Nath’s cabinet had even asked people to forgive them for failing to fulfil Rahul Gandhi’s promise of farm loan waivers and apologised for the same.
Following Madhya Pradesh government’s failure to fulfil its promise made to people of the state, senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia was found agitated against Kamal Nath-led government and threatened to launch a protest if the Congress government in MP does not fulfil promises it had made to people before coming to power.
This statement coming from a Congress MLA is not surprising since there are other loyalists who have in the past reiterated the same uncertainty. In the month of May last year, Chief Minister Kamal Nath had also conceded that Congress ex-president’s promise was nothing but a sham, considering he too accepted then that a complete loan waiver for farmers is not possible in 10 days because nobody has a magic wand.
In fact, there have been several incidents in the past that prove the failure of the Congress government to deliver on its much-touted promise. In February distressed farmers in Madhya Pradesh had threatened ‘mass suicide’ over fake loans in Madhya Pradesh.
In fact, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had also accused the Congress of blatantly lying and deceiving the poor farmers of Madhya Pradesh calling the schemes promised by Congress is a major sham.