New Delhi: Former Union Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram on Monday had attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and claimed that no state had asked the Centre that it should be allowed to procure vaccines directly from manufacturers. However, Chidambaram has backed down from his previous statement after a February letter by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee started doing rounds on social media and said that he was ‘wrong and stands corrected’.
“I told (news agency) ANI ‘please tell us which state government demanded that it should be allowed to directly procure vaccines’. Social media activists have posted the copy of the letter of CM, West Bengal to PM making such a request. I was wrong. I stand corrected,” Chidambaram said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
In this letter to PM Modi, Mamata Banerjee wanted Bengal to be allowed to procure vaccines on its own to fulfil its requirements for the vaccine.
In the letter which has surfaced online, Mamata Banerjee had written to PM Modi, “We would request you to kindly take up the matter with appropriate authority so that State government is able to purchase the vaccines from designated point(s) on top priority basis because the West Bengal government wants to provide vaccination free of cost to all the people,” Banerjee said in her February 24 letter. It is a point that she reiterated in subsequent months as well.”
However, the letter couldn’t be verified by ABP News.
Chidambaram had criticised PM Modi on Monday and said, “Nobody, but nobody said that [the] Centre should not procure vaccines. He (PM) now blames state govt saying – they wanted to procure vaccines so we allowed them. Let us know which CM, which state govt, on what date demanded that he should be allowed to procure vaccines.”
Mamata Banerjee was also one of those who took a jibe at the PM after his address but she did not comment on the letter which has appeared on social media. Instead, She said, “Took him (PM) 4 months but after much pressure, he has FINALLY listened to us & implemented what we’ve been asking all this while.”
In a major announcement, the Prime Minister on Monday announced that from June 21 onwards the Centre will provide free vaccine to all Indian citizens above 18 years of age.
PM Modi informed that the Centre will buy 75 per cent of the total production of the vaccine producers and provide to the states free of cost. He also said that the system of 25 per cent vaccines being procured directly by the private hospitals will continue.