Throughout last year, when our scientists, doctors and innovators were racing against time to find a vaccine, your party (Congress) leaders left no opportunity to mock these efforts. A vaccine that is made in India should be a matter of national pride. Instead, Congress leaders tried to ridicule it and create doubts in the minds of people. Even a Chief Minister belonging to your party indulged in such antics. In a nation that has almost no recent history of vaccine hesitancy, your party has the dubious record of trying to actively create it, that too, in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic.
About the Modi Government “abdicating” its responsibility on vaccination, is there so much of a communication gap between the Congress and the states it shares power in? In April itself, top-most Congress leaders were calling for ‘decentralisation of vaccination’.
The Government of India has already ensured considerable coverage has been achieved in priority groups by providing over 16 crore vaccines to states in the first few phases. Even now, it continues to give 50% of the total vaccines, free of cost. I would also like to address the debates around access to vaccines. States which have BJP or NDA government have announced their resolve to help the poor and underprivileged by providing vaccines for free. I am sure Congress governments in various states also feel strongly for the poor. Can they also come out with a similar decision to provide vaccines for free?
The COVID-19 vaccine made in India does not belong to any political party or leader — it belongs to the nation. Yet, the Congress could did not do the right thing instead only did the wrong politics.
When the pandemic struck, the Government of India discussed the need for ventilators with all states. So far around 45,000 ventilators were produced and procured in mission mode and sent to all states. But it is saddening to see visuals of ventilators sent through PM-CARES Fund lying around unused in certain states. I hope you address these issues on priority.
In this fight against the pandemic, the conduct of Congress leaders including former Congress President Rahul Gandhi will be remembered for duplicity and pettiness. Your party, under your leadership, is doing no favours to itself by opposing lockdowns and then demanding for the same, ignoring the Centre’s advisories on the second wave of Covid and then saying they did not get any information, holding massive election rallies in Kerala causing a spike in Covid cases while grandstanding about election rallies elsewhere, supporting protests but speaking about following Covid guidelines. Even when the second wave was on the rise, your party leaders were happier being seen in super spreader political events in North India, where there was no regard for masks or social distancing. This is not the era when such information can be erased from public memory. Further, the data from February and March would reveal which states failed to track the rising cases. Why are mortality rates in states such as Punjab so high? These are questions you must ask your own CMs.
Now, there is a new trend in the Congress to put all the blame on the Central Vista project. The need for a new Parliament was raised as early as the UPA umes. Former Speaker Meira Kumar underscored the need for a new Parliament building. The Union Urban Development Minister has addressed a large number of other queries regarding the project. Yet, the Congress does not believe in facts. People are also contrasting the Congress’s stand on Central Vista with the Chhattisgarh Govt going ahead to build a new assembly complex.
—JP Nadda writes a 4-page letter to Cong President
Despite harsh lessons of last year and the pain inflicted on our citizens, the Govt continues to follow an arbitrary and discriminatory policy, which promises to exacerbate existing challenges.
The policy implies that the Government of India has abdicated its responsibility to provide free vaccination for citizens between the age group of 18 to 45 years. This is complete abandonment of the Government’s responsibility towards our youth.
As a consequence of this policy, the vaccine manufacturer, ie the Serum Institute of India announced a differential pricing mechanism today, viz., Rs150 per dose for the Central Government, Rs400 per dose for state government and Rs600 per dose for Private Hospitals.
This means the citizens will be compelled to pay these high rates to be vaccinated. This will also bleed the finances of State Governments.
This begs the question, how can the same vaccine manufactured by the same company have three different prices? There is no rationale or justification that allows for such arbitrary distinction.
Furthermore, in these unprecedented times, how can the Government of India permit such brazen profiteering from people’s misery? At a time when medical resources are scarce, hospital beds are unavailable, oxygen supply and availability of essential medicine is dwindling rapidly, why is your Government allowing a policy that reeks of such insensitivity. Even with regards to the 50% quota for vaccination available with the Cente, the allocation must be transparent and equitable, in line with the spirit of cooperative federalism.
The Indian National Congress has already demanded a re-evaluation of this policy. Surely, any reasonable person will agree on the benefit of a uniform price for vaccination.
I would urge you to intervene immediately and reverse this ill- considered decision. The nation’s goal must be to ensure that everyone over 18 years is given the vaccine, regardless of their economic circumstances.
—Sonia Gandhi in her letter on April 22