Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Tuesday confirmed the state government’s move to provide free vaccination to the 18-44 age group from May 1 saying the state cabinet will give its approval at its meeting on Wednesday. Pawar said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will take a final decision on free vaccination which will cover 5.71 crore people who will need 12 crore doses.
Pawar said he has signed the proposal for carrying out vaccination of citizens in the 18-44 age group free of cost. "The Chief Minister will take a decision. The cabinet will discuss the proposal on Wednesday. The government will float global tenders for the procurement of vaccine doses," he noted.
Pawar has changed his earlier stand that the government will bear the expenses for free vaccination to poor and economically weaker sections. However, he had mooted that the people who can afford to pay the vaccination charges should pay for the same.
"I have said something now and if a different proposal is approved in the cabinet meeting tomorrow, then tomorrow it will be played up breaking news," said Pawar asking the reporters to wait till Wednesday.
Pawar’s statement came days after the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi partners were engaged in taking credit for the free vaccination. Cracks surfaced among three partners after NCP minister Nawab Malik unilaterally announced free vaccination for citizens from 18-44 age groups. However, Congress Minister Balasaheb Thorat took strong objection reminding that the party president Sonia Gandhi has advocated free vaccination and it has been already announced in the Congress ruled Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
On the other hand, Shiv Sena Minister Aaditya Thackeray through his tweet announced the state government’s move to vaccinate free of cost but later deleted it saying that the cabinet will take a decision based on the recommendation of the empowered group.