A full blown war of words has erupted between the Congress and the BJP over COVID-19 vaccines.
Hours after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi shot off a hard hitting letter to PM Narendra Modi demanding vaccination for “everyone who need it” and halt to COVID-19 vaccine export, the BJP now has tried to defend “less supply” of vaccines to Congress-ruled states.
Defending the Centre’s ‘discrimination’ in regards to its vaccine distribution policy, BJP leader and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has claimed that there is no shortage of vaccines in Congress-ruled States.
He went on to say that, in the Congress-ruled States, there is a “shortage of commitment”.
Ravi Shankar Prasad said: “Rahul Gandhi must know that shortage in Congress-ruled states is not of vaccines but of basic commitment towards healthcare.”
Rahul Gandhi called for “an immediate moratorium on vaccine export and fast-track approval of other vaccines”.
Rahul Gandhi in his strong worded letter to PM Modi also predicted “catastrophic effects” on economy if inoculations continued at current pace.
“Our vaccination programme has to move beyond an individual’s picture on the vaccine certificates, towards guaranteeing maximum vaccination,” Rahul Gandhi wrote in his letter to PM Modi.
This was an apparent jibe at PM Modi’s photos on certificates handed out to those who receive COVID jabs.
Rahul Gandhi said that the vaccination process in India is moving at a “snail pace”.
“At our current vaccination rate, it will take years to inoculate 75 per cent of the population. This will have catastrophic effects and will gravely decelerate India’s economy,” Rahul Gandhi warned.
“There is no clear reason as to why the government permitted large scale exports of vaccines. While our nation is facing vaccine starvation, more than six crore doses of vaccine have been exported,” he said.
“The state governments are repeatedly highlighting vaccine shortages only to receive intemperate statements by the Union Health Minister targeting opposition-ruled states, undercutting cooperative federalism, which you too have stressed as essential.”
On Wednesday, the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra Government has accused the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre of ‘discrimination’ in regards to COVID-19 vaccine distribution to the States.
Briefing the media, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope accused the BJP-led Central Government of not supplying adequate COVID-19 vaccines to the State.
“Gujarat has half the population of Maharashtra. However, Gujarat has thus far received 1 crore vaccines. But, we have received only 1.04 lakhs vaccine dosages till now,” alleged Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope.
“According to the latest release order of vaccines from Centre, Maharashtra has been allotted only 7.5 lakh vaccine dosages. While Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana etc. have been given far more vaccines than Maharashtra,” alleged Rajesh Tope.
Interestingly, BJP Governments rule the States of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gurajat and Haryana.
Not only Maharashtra, Odisha too is falling short of COVID-19 vaccines.
Informing this, Odisha Health Minister Naba Kishore Das said that COVID-19 vaccination process would have to be stopped in the State if the State doesn’t receive vaccines within 2 days.
“It is very important to get vaccines from Centre. If we don’t get vaccine within these 2 days, then we will have to stop it (vaccination). Our 700 vaccination centres, out of the 1400, have already closed. We hope we get the vaccines soon,” Odisha Health Minister Naba Kishore Das said.
“Right now we have 5.34 lakhs doses. We administer 2.5-lakh vaccines daily. So, our stock will last for 2 more days. We’ve written to Centre to send us a minimum of 25-lakh vaccines for 10 days so that we can vaccinate properly,” the Odisha Health Minister added.