Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written to his non-BJP counterparts in 11 states and called for a united effort in demanding that the Centre procure Covid-19 vaccines required by the states and distribute them free of cost.
Posting his letter on Twitter, Vijayan tweeted, “Wrote to 11 CMs in the spirit of Cooperative Federalism. Quite unfortunate that Centre absolves itself of its duty to procure vaccines, ensure free universal vaccination. United effort to jointly pursue our genuine demand is the need of the hour, so that Centre acts immediately.”
In his letter, Vijayan wrote that he has already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, pointing out merits of the Centre taking the lead in assessing vaccine requirements of states and floating a global tender by taking into account the needs of all states.
He stated that it would be more cost-effective if the Centre procures vaccines.
Wrote to 11 CMs in the spirit of Cooperative Federalism. Quite unfortunate that Centre absolves itself of its duty to procure vaccines, ensure free universal vaccination. United effort to jointly pursue our genuine demand is the need of the hour, so that Centre acts immediately. pic.twitter.com/ILvEFYSpRu
— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) May 31, 2021
Vijayan wrote: “If the burden of procuring the vaccine is left entirely or even substantially on the states, their fiscal situation would be in dire straits. Fiscal strength of the states is an essential part of a healthy federal set-up. If finances of the states are hamstrung, federalism itself will be weakened, and this will not augur well for a democratic polity like ours.”
Further, he wrote, “this will impede the efforts for early building of herd immunity”.
The Kerala Chief Minister wrote that vaccine manufacturers are looking to make financial gains by exploiting the scarce supply situation; that foreign pharmaceutical companies are unwilling to enter into agreements with states that want to procure Covid-19 vaccines from abroad. India, he pointed out in the letter, has public sector pharmaceutical firms capable of taking up production of the vaccine.
Vijayan stated that the Centre should take necessary steps to ensure that intellectual property rights, patent laws and conventions do not stand in the way of manufacturing Covid-19 vaccine, which should have the status of public good. Options such as compulsory licensing should be explored by the Union government, he pointed out.
He wrote, “When the nation is passing through the second surge, it is quite unfortunate that there appears to be an attempt by the Centre to absolve itself of its bounden duty to provide adequate supply of vaccine to the states.”
Along with the letter to fellow Chief Ministers, Vijayan also enclosed the copy of the letter he had written to Prime Minister Modi.