People await their turn for Covid vaccination at Nesco Ground Goregaon in Mumbai.
People await their turn for Covid vaccination at Nesco Ground Goregaon in Mumbai.

Mumbai: Cracks have surfaced among the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi partners over the free vaccination of citizens of 18-45 age groups from May 1.

The unilateral announcement made by the NCP minister Nawab Malik has not gone down well as the Congress Minister Balasaheb Thorat has expressed serious disappointment. On the other hand, Shiv Sena minister Aaditya Thackeray deleted his tweet on the free vaccination and later uploaded a new tweet saying that the decision will be taken based on the recommendations of the high-level committee in this regard.

Interestingly, the three parties have not hidden their plan to take credit for the free vaccination.

Malik said the state cabinet on April 21 was unanimous on free vaccination and it was decided to approve an outgo of about Rs 5,000 crore from the state’s kitty. He also noted that Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Saturday had announced that a global tender would be issued for the procurement of vaccine to administer 12 crore doses to 5.71 crore population from 18-45 age group.

Malik’s move was quite obvious as his party, the NCP, holds the departments of public health and food and drug administration and the party wanted the recognition of these two departments in the implementation of vaccination drive.

However, Thorat said the Congress President Sonia Gandhi has already said that vaccination should be done free of cost. “It is free in the Congress-ruled Rajasthan, Punjab and Chhattisgarh. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will definitely accept the Congress party’s demand,’’ he noted.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut preferred not to comment on the controversy saying the vaccination is in the government’s domain and it will take the decision.

BJP has slammed the ruling MVA partners for lack of unanimity and taking credit on vaccination issue amid rising corona cases. Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Devendra Fadnavis said the Centre is providing free vaccine to every eligible person and, therefore, the states won’t have to bear the burden.

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Free Press Journal