Panaji: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Goa on Monday formally launched a state-sponsored pilgrimage scheme for people announced before the Assembly polls held in February this year. Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said such schemes help them garner votes.
Chief Minister flagged off a bus carrying passengers to the famous Tirupati shrine in Andhra Pradesh under the Mukhyamantri Devdarshan Yatra Yojana”, which he had announced before the Assembly polls. We were criticised for introducing this scheme to garner votes. I would say that we garnered votes because of such kind of schemes and not vice versa, the chief minister told a gathering.
He said seats are booked for the free pilgrimage on the first-cum-first-served basis. Sawant said the two other destinations promised under the scheme are Velankanni in Tamil Nadu- a popular pilgrim center, especially renowned for the Church of Mother Mary- and Shirdi, the famous shrine of Sai Baba located in neighbouring Maharashtra.
Under the scheme, people over the age of 50 years are eligible to apply. The chief minister said a doctor, a caretaker, and a policeman accompany pilgrims on the tours. “The pilgrimages under the scheme are free of cost. The state government takes care of meals and boarding of pilgrims during the tours,” he said.