January 17, 2021 10:40:08 am
At a press conference at the party headquarters in Lucknow, Akhilesh was asked about his opinion on the head of the state not getting vaccinated yet, which is contrary to what has happened in other countries. He said, “I agree with you on this. I would like to say the BJP does everything with pomp and show even if their programmes are hollow. So, I feel, people from the BJP should stand in the line first and get vaccinated. The way the taali [clap] and thali [plate] was done, the same way all of them should come and get vaccinated. After one year, the SP will form the government and all of us will get vaccinated for free.”
The SP chief added, “I am happy that the government started the vaccination drive. And about the vaccine, it was not just me who was worried. Now, the vaccine is here. I have no complaint from doctors, scientists and volunteers. The question is that when will the poor get the vaccine? And will it be free for them? The new president in the US, which recorded the highest number of casualties at around 4 lakh, has already made a vaccination programme – how many people will get the vaccine in 100 days. Same for other countries. Our government should tell us their programme. When will they give the vaccine to everyone for free? The government should tell us this.”
Akhilesh asked the government if it had imparted proper training to its staff, doctors and technical people. “Do they have proper knowledge? And where will the vaccine be administered?… Have sufficient funds been disbursed there? It has come to our notice that places where centres have been made, no funds have reached there. If funds are not provided, how will the vaccination happen?” he questioned.
The former CM said the government should take the opinion of experts about the vaccination and take decisions accordingly. “I have no problem if there are adequate funds and proper arrangements like cold chains.”
He added, “There will be complaints related to vaccines. We will have to trust our experts. If you want to trust Yogiji, then you can do so.”
A host of leaders joined the SP at the press conference, including Meerut Mayor Sunita Verma, who was expelled from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and her husband Yogesh Verma, a former two-time BSP MLA. Yogesh was booked under the National Security Act and was the main accused in the case registered in connection with the violence at a Dalit agitation organised in April 2018 to protest against the dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Asked about the Ram temple donation drive, Akhilesh said: “The concept of ‘dakshina’ [offering] is there in the Vedic traditions. It is not ‘chanda’ [donation]. The BJP should stop these political programmes. In our Vedic traditions, there is dakshina, not chanda. You can pick up the Vedas, Ramayana or Mahabharata. In Hindu traditions, the word chanda is not there. The BJP government is doing these political programmes because they can’t give the vaccine, they can’t provide jobs, because they can’t double farmers’ income. This is all a distraction. As far as the ‘dakshina’ is concerned, I have always given it at all temples.”
Asked about former Gujarat cadre IAS officer Arvind Kumar Sharma joining the BJP and being fielded as a candidate for the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council polls, Akhilesh said, “…he has come from very far — from Gujarat. I feel the work started by our government will be completed sooner by him who has come from Gujarat… What will he do in eight-nine months? This government is going anyway. They can start a fight, spread hatred, abuse, lodge fake cases, indulge in vandalism, disrespect people. But the people of UP are ready to teach them a lesson.”
The former CM criticised the governments handling of law and order. “Many people have been killed in fake encounters. Even if they did not have any serious case, they were killed. The highest number of custodial deaths in the country are happening under the BJP rule in the state.”
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