Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi Thursday took potshots at the ruling dispensation after the BJP promised free Covid vaccine for the people of Bihar in its election manifesto. His comments come in the backdrop of a barrage of criticism against the BJP with the opposition parties asking whether non-BJP ruled states will get the free vaccine.
“GOI just announced India’s Covid access strategy. Kindly refer to the state-wise election schedule to know when will you get it, along with a hoard of false promises,” Gandhi tweeted.
GOI just announced India’s Covid access strategy.
Kindly refer to the state-wise election schedule to know when will you get it, along with a hoard of false promises.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 22, 2020
Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in the party’s poll manifesto for the upcoming elections, announced that the party will provide free Covid-19 vaccination for the people of Bihar. The promise is point number one of the 11 “sankalp” commitments in the party manifesto.
The manifesto reads: “The NDA government in Bihar has set an example in the fight against novel coronavirus. It is our promise that when a vaccine for COVID is available after clearance from ICMR, every Bihar resident will be given free vaccination.”
About the free Covid vaccination, Sitharaman, who launched the manifesto, said, “After crossing all the stages, there are at least three vaccines that have reached the last stage and are on the cusp of production. After this if scientific people say this vaccine is fine, production can take place, our production capacity, because of the government’s intervention, is very large. So when the clearance comes from scientists, our vaccine production will be at such a level, that what we are promising, that in Bihar everyone will get a free vaccine. This is a promise in our sankalp patra. With responsibility we are assuring the people of Bihar,” Sitharaman said.”
Calling for strict action by the Election Commission, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, in a tweet said: “Tum mujhe vote do, mai tumhe vaccine…what appalling cynicism! Will the Election Commission rap her and her shameless government on the knuckles?”
Calling it ‘Vaccine electionism’, Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said that the BJP is implying that the citizens of other non-election states will have to pay for the vaccine. The Congress party, on its Twitter handle, asked, “Is the FM suggesting that citizens from other states will have to pay for the vaccine? Is the BJP govt going to make Indian citizens pay to save their lives? Every major vaccination programme from Polio to Smallpox has been free for our citizens, does BJP intend to reverse that?”
Former J&K Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah asked whether the BJP will be paying for the vaccines from its own party treasury.
Amidst a deluge of criticism from Opposition leaders, BJP IT head Amit Malviya, in a clarification, said that health is a state subject.
“BJP’s manifesto promises free Covid vaccine. Like all programs, center will provide vaccines to states at a nominal rate. It is for the state governments to decide if they want to give it free or otherwise. Health being a state subject, Bihar BJP has decided to give it free. Simple,” he said in a tweet.
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