MP pilgrimage scheme for senior citizens back after long gap; first train to leave for Varanasi on Apr 19

The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh is relaunching a special pilgrimage scheme for senior citizens, which was discontinued after the BJP’s defeat in the 2018 polls and the COVID-19 pandemic, with a special train leaving for Varanasi on Tuesday.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will flag off the special train at the Rani Kamalapati railway station here. He reviewed the preparations for the Maukhyamantri Tirth Darshan Yojana on Saturday.

The train with 974 pilgrims from seven districts under the Bhopal and Sagar divisions will leave for Varanasi from the Rani Kamalapati railway station on Tuesday, officials said in a meeting chaired by the chief minister. Chouhan said that the train will reach Varanasi on April 20 morning. The return journey is scheduled for April 22.

During the Varanasi visit, the pilgrims will be taken to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. They will also take part in the famous Ganga Aarti and visit the birthplaces of Sant Ravidas and Sant Kabirdas, he said. The pilgrims will also be given a memento of Lord Vishwanath on their return to MP.

The state government will arrange for the stay, food and transport of the pilgrims during this journey, the chief minister said.

According to officials, the senior citizens aged 60 and above, who are not paying Income Tax, are eligible for this scheme. The state government has entrusted the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) with the responsibility of the Mukhyamantri Tirth Darshan Yojana.

Doctors and MP police personnel also travel in the special train to provide medical facilities and security to the pilgrims who are senior citizens. This scheme was discontinued after BJP’s defeat in the 2018 assembly polls and due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BJP came to power again in March 2020 after the then chief minister Kamal Nath resigned following the defection of Congress MLAs to BJP. The next assembly polls are due in MP in November next year.

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