'Haj subsidy will continue'

HYDERABAD OCT. 22. The Union Minister for Textiles, Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, today refuted reports that the Centre had reduced the Haj subsidy this year and said the subsidy would continue. "On the contrary, it is being increased by Rs. 2,000 per Haji due to the increase in airfare," he said.

Mr. Hussain told the press that the Government had decided not to allow income-tax payers or those who have booked their own accommodation in Mecca.

This would lessen the misuse of the subsidy by the rich. The Vajpayee Government had increased the Haj subsidy by 22 times from what it was during the Congress rule, he said and criticised the Opposition for "spreading politically-motivated disinformation about the Government's policies."

Mr. Hussain disagreed that Muslims and other minorities were "antagonistic" to the BJP and said that many Muslim-dominated parliamentary constituencies had BJP candidates — his own Kishanganj, apart from Lucknow, Chandni Chowk and Faridabad among these.

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