India's drugs regulator on Sunday approved the indigenously developed 'Covaxin' of Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive.
The granting of approval, however, spurred a war of words between politicos of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, with some ugly slurs being thrown around, with comparisons to Nazi propagandists in the plate as well.
Twitter lay stunned as their political leaders, who are expected to remain sane, collected, and above all responsible during a collective public health crisis, laid down a juvenile barrage of accusations and mockery against each other.
A few veteran Congress leaders, including Anand Sharma, Shashi Tharoor and Jairam Ramesh, had questioned the approval process for Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine and raised serious concerns over allowing Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine for restricted use, saying it is "premature" and can prove dangerous.
In response, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri took a swipe at the opposition leaders, saying they are on a quest for permanent political marginalisation.
His dig, however, drew a sharp retort from Congress leader Jairam Ramesh who compared him with Nazi propagandists.
In a tweet, Puri said, "Our in-house cynics M/s Jairam, Tharoor & Akhilesh are behaving true to form. They first questioned the valour of our soldiers & are now unhappy that the two vaccines to get DCGI nod are made in India. Clearly, they are on a quest for permanent political marginalization."
Jairam Ramesh retorted, "So says the in-house Goebbels-cum-Albert Speer."
Both Joseph Goebbels and Albert Speer were close allies of German dictator Hitler.
Congress' Karti P Chidambaram also joined in on the 'banter' (Apparently, comparing India to Nazi Germany is back on the menu, in the minds of our veteran political leaders).
"Always wondered who is the Albery Speer of this regime," Karti wrote in reply to Ramesh's tweet, quoting a prior tweet of his.
Tharoor, a Congress MP and former union minister, also countered Puri, saying he had never questioned the valour of our soldiers. "I would be happy and proud if more Indian vaccines are approved - but only after a full 3-phase trial confirms they are safe & effective. Short-circuiting the process is unprecedented, inadvisable & risks lives.
"We are baffled to understand what scientific logic has motivated the SEC (subject expert committee) to approve this vaccine posthaste... in violation of the criteria in the draft regulatory guidelines for the development of Covid-19 vaccines published by CDSCO on 21/9/20," he tweeted, referring to Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.
Jairam Ramesh had earlier said that Bharat Biotech is a first-rate enterprise while adding that it is puzzling that internationally-accepted protocols relating to phase three trials are being modified for Covaxin. He asked Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to clarify.
Meanwhile, BJP national president JP Nadda later slammed the Congress and other opposition parties for questioning India's drug regulator's approval to two COVID-19 vaccines for restricted emergency use in the country.
Taking to Twitter, the BJP chief said that Congress comes up with wild theories whenever India achieves something commendable.