Panaji: Politicians in Goa have suddenly begun sponsoring pilgrimages to Hindu and Christian religious sites with gusto - possibly hoping for "divine intervention" in the March 3 polls. Both aspiring candidates as well as Election Commission officials acknowledge that Hindu and Christian voters were being sponsored for pilgrimages to Shirdi in Maharashtra - known as the destination of Sai Baba devotees - and to Vailankanni in Tamil Nadu, a famous pilgrimage site for Christians.
"Yes, we conducted a raid on three buses with passengers headed for Shirdi. We had received a complaint that a political party had sponsored the trip to Shirdi," chief electoral officer S. Kumaraswamy said on Monday. The authorities let the passengers go on with the pilgrimage after verifying the travel details with the agent who did the booking for the tour.
Such trips to Shirdi as well as to the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health at Vailankanni have not been uncommon over the past year, but there has been a sudden surge, with politicians and ticket aspirants hoping to convert the currency of faith into votes.
"The travel arrangement, food and staying quarters are all sponsored. Generally a lot of women of the house opt for these trips. It is a weekend away from home and it is a pilgrimage. Who does not like going on a pilgrimage?" the 'travel agent' of a legislator from north Goa told IANS....more
02:53 PM, Jan 18, 2012