Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Amid the opposition's criticism of the BJP's Bihar poll promise of free COVID vaccines, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman asserted on Saturday that the announcement was perfectly in order and a party can announce what it wants to do when it comes to power.

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Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday released its manifesto for three-phased Bihar elections and promised that after the approval of the coronavirus vaccine from ICMR, every person in the State will get vaccinated free of cost.

Union Finance Minister and BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman released the party's manifesto. "As soon as COVID-19 vaccine will be available for production at a mass scale every person in Bihar will get free vaccination. This is the first promise mentioned in our poll manifesto," Sitharaman said.

The senior BJP leader said that Bihar is one State where all citizens are politically sensitive and well informed. "They know and understand the promises a party makes. If anyone raises questions on our manifesto, we can answer them with confidence as we fulfill what we promised," she added.

Opposition parties had slammed the BJP for the promise and demanded action by the Election Commission (EC), while alleging that the ruling party was using the pandemic for political gains.

Speaking to reporters here, Sitharaman, a senior BJP leader, said, "It is a manifesto announcement. A party can announce what it wants to do when it comes to power. That is exactly what is announced. Health is a state subject. It is perfectly in order." Every party in its manifesto states what it wants to do when it comes to power, she added.

After Sitharaman drew criticism for her statement, MoS Health and BJP leader Ashwini Choubey on Thursday clarified that free coronavirus vaccine will be for every state and not just Bihar.

"Free coronavirus vaccine will not only be for Bihar but for every state," Ashwini Choubey said.

The Bihar Assembly polls are scheduled to be held in three phases, starting October 28.

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