New Delhi: The opposition parties lambasted Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon after he announced a centralised Covid-19 vaccine policy, they alleged the government has taken this decision after the Supreme Court rap.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on his part stated the ruling dispensation at the Centre could have taken this decision earlier.
“We express our gratitude to the honourable Supreme Court that after its intervention, free vaccine will be available to all age groups across the country. If the Central government wanted, it could have done this long ago. But due to the policies of the Centre, neither the states were able to buy the vaccine nor the Central government was giving it,” he tweeted in Hindi.
The Congress Party also echoed similar sentiments with party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala stating the move has been taken after the apex court pulled up the Centre while questioning its vaccines policy.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitarayam Yechury trained his guns on Prime Minister Modi and accused him of “trying to defend his dubious discriminatory vaccine policy by passing the buck on to State governments”.
“Trying to defend his dubious discriminatory vaccine policy by passing the buck on to State governments. Now Modi abandons his policy, fearing a Supreme Court directive for a free and universal vaccination programme by the Centre,” he tweeted.
The Supreme Court had last week dubbed the Centre’s Covid-19 vaccination policy, which does not provide free vaccination for the people in the 18 to 44 years age group, as “arbitrary and irrational” and asked the ruling dispensation to respond to the observations made.
“Due to the changing nature of the pandemic, we are now faced with a situation where the 18-44 age group also needs to be vaccinated, although priority may be retained between different age groups on a scientific basis,” observed an apex court bench comprising Justices DY Chandra, L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat.
BJP Leaders Appreciate Decision
Meanwhile, the government is also drawing applause for its decision with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan welcoming Prime Minister Modi’s announcement.
“I express my gratitude towards the PM for announcing universal vaccination for all to be carried out by the Government of India and also for extending Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana till November,” ANI quoted Chouhan as saying.
Other BJP-ruled state CMs such Goa CM Pramod Mahajan, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar also appreciated the move.
Indian Medical Association (IMA) president Dr J.A. Jayalal thanked the Prime Minister for the “important announcement of universal vaccination for all to be carried out by the Government of India”.
“The IMA is constantly and proactively supporting the vaccination drive initiated by the Prime Minister,” he said.
PM Modi’s Announcement
Addressing the nation earlier, Prime Minister Modi announced that the Centre would provide free Covid-19 vaccine to the states for inoculation of all above 18 years of age from June 21.
“Twenty-five per cent of the vaccination work with states will now be handled by the Centre, it will be implemented in the coming two weeks. Both State and Centre to work as per new guidelines in the coming two weeks,” he said.
Assuring that vaccines’ supply will increase in the coming days, Prime Minister Modi said: “Work on producing an intranasal vaccine for Covid is also happening.”
Prime Minister Modi also announced that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana had been extended till Diwali to ensure free ration to 80 crore people amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The announcement came as India has reported 1,00,636 new Covid cases in the last 24 hours which the Union Health Ministry said is the lowest in the last two months.
The country has recorded less than two lakh daily new cases for 11 continuous days now, the Health Ministry added.