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Centre worried about its image, we are worried about our children: Manish Sisodia on Singapore row

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the Centre did not care about children, and only about their image after the Ministry of External said that Kejriwal had no competence to speak on virus variants and the country's aviation policy.

Written by Mallica Joshi | New Delhi |
Updated: May 19, 2021 3:29:20 pm
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said Wednesday that the statement made by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on the Covid strain in Singapore was meant to express worry for the children of the country, but the Centre is only focusing on its image abroad.

Kejriwal had said in a tweet on Tuesday, “A new variant of coronavirus found in Singapore is being said to be very dangerous for children. This can usher in the third wave (of COVID-19) in India. I appeal to the Central government to immediately halt air services with Singapore, and work on developing a vaccine for children on a priority basis.”

Sisodia said the Centre did not care about children, and only about their image after the Ministry of External said that Kejriwal had no competence to speak on virus variants and the country’s aviation policy.

“Yesterday the CM said that it seems like children are at risk in Singapore, keeping in mind the strain. Many channels also carried the story and their education minister also said that children are more at risk. Today BJP has started low-level politics on the issue… Reactions from the Centre and BJP make it clear that while Kejriwal is worried about children, BJP and Centre are worried about Singapore. The Centre and BJP do not worry about children,” Sisodia said.

The Singapore health ministry had issued a statement on Tuesday evening, saying there is no new strain in the country.

“The strain that is prevalent in many of the COVID-19 cases in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which originated in India. Phylogenetic testing has shown this B.1.617.2 variant to be associated with several clusters in Singapore,” it said in a statement.

On Tuesday morning, the official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, Arindam Bagchi tweeted, “Singapore Government called in our High Commissioner today to convey strong objection to Delhi CM’s tweet on “Singapore variant”. High Commissioner clarified that Delhi CM had no competence to pronounce on Covid variants or civil aviation policy.” The minister of external affairs, S Jaishankar also tweeted to say that the Delhi CM does not speak for India.

“Singapore and India have been solid partners in the fight against Covid-19. Appreciate Singapore’s role as a logistics hub and oxygen supplier. Their gesture of deploying military aircraft to help us speaks of our exceptional relationship. However, irresponsible comments from those who should know better can damage long-standing partnerships. So, let me clarify- Delhi CM does not speak for India,” he tweeted.

As per current protocols, those under the age of 18 are not eligible for the vaccine. Last week, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted approval to Bharat Biotech to conduct phase II/III clinical trial of Covaxin Covid-19 vaccine in the age group of 2 to 18 years.

Sisodia also said that the Centre had not taken things seriously when a new variant of the SARS – Cov-2 variant had emerged in London.

“Scientists had warned about the new strain. The government did not pay heed and because of that strain and because of the Centre’s laxity, look at what has happened in the country. The alert, which was supposed to prompt us into action, was not taken seriously. Now, no one has been left untouched. Why? Because the centre did not act when the alert on London strain was sounded, neither did it take appropriate steps. Today doctors and scientists are again saying that children are at risk in the next wave but we are not ready to understand. The issue is not Singapore, it is children. You want to make Singapore the issue, we are talking about children. You want to play politics on Singapore, we are asking with folded hands to save our children… The Centre is free to worry about their image, we will worry about our children,” he said.

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