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Covid-19: Centre Indulging in Politics Over Supply of Vaccines, Alleges Jharkhand Govt

Representative Image of Covid-19 vaccination

Representative Image of Covid-19 vaccination

Jharkhand has already put on hold the vaccination programme for the 1844 age group, stating that it will announce the dates for starting the drive once vaccines are made available.

Battling severe vaccine shortage, the Jharkhand government hit out at the Centre and alleged that it was “indulging in politics" by not providing the required doses to the state. Jharkhand has already put on hold the vaccination programme for the 18-44 age group, stating that it will announce the dates for starting the drive once vaccines are made available.

“The Government of India is indulging in politics with us. As a central government, it should respect the federal structure and facilitate quick delivery of vaccines and medicines to us," state Health Minister Banna Gupta told PTI. “We have placed an order for 50 lakh doses. They (Centre) are saying that it will be supplied between May 15 to May 30. How can we start the drive for 18-plus under such circumstances?" he added.

Accusing the Centre of step-motherly treatment, Gupta said the ruling dispensation in New Delhi which believed in ‘Ek Desh, Ek Vidhan, Ek Samvidhan’ (One nation, one rule, one Constitution) was “playing games" with the people of Jharkhand. The state has been severely hit by the second wave of the COVID-19, recording 3,853 fatalities so far, besides having 58,806 active cases at present.

Attacking the Centre, Gupta sought to know the need of sending vaccines to foreign nations when the people of the country were dying. The minister said the BJP had promised to provide free COVID-19 vaccines to the people of West Bengal and Bihar ahead of the elections, if it was voted to power, but here was a state that was ready to buy it while the Centre was indulging in politics — whether it was over important drugs such as Remedesivir or vaccines.

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“Why are you doing politics with us? Provide us vaccines. We are ready to purchase it. You are torturing our people and disrespecting them," Gupta said. He also slammed the Centre, alleging prejudiced approach even in providing life-saving drugs.

The state had placed the demand for 50 lakh vaccine doses to launch the vaccination programme for the 1.57 crore population in the 18-44 age bracket under the Liberalised and Accelerated Phase 3 Strategy of COVID-19 vaccination for which registration had commenced since April 28. The state had placed orders with the Pune-based Serum Institute of India for 25 lakh doses of Covishield and with the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech for another 25 lakh doses of Covaxin to launch the drive.

Gupta said: “We are fully equipped to start the vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group. If you give us vaccines today we will start the drive from tomorrow. The state has made arrangements for inoculation of about 4.5 lakh people a day." He said that 1.57 crore population in the state fall in the 18-44 age group. The first dose of the vaccine has been administered to over 27.31 lakh people, including frontline workers and those above the age of 45.

The second shot has been given to about over 5.85 lakh people. Gupta alleged that different prices for vaccines for states show the policy of Centre’s “discrimination".

Last week, Chief Minister Heman Soren had described Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s phone call to him on the COVID-19 situation as the PM’s “Mann Ki Baat", instead of business. “Today the respected Prime Minister called. He only spoke his ‘Mann Ki Baat’. It would have been better if he would have talked business and heard the issues," he had said.

Official sources had then said that Soren was unhappy as he was not allowed to present the issues concerning his state before Modi and instead, it was only the prime minister who talked about the COVID-19 situation. Soren’s jibe at the prime minister had triggered a political slugfest with the BJP accusing the chief minister of lacking the basic courtesy expected of a person holding his office and lowering its dignity.

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first published:May 10, 2021, 20:14 IST