As the Odisha government kick started the massive Covid-19 vaccination drive on Monday, the ruling BJD and the opposition BJP crossed swords over picture of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik alone being displayed in the hoardings and posters at the inoculation sites. The BJP workers strongly protested lone picture of Patnaik at vaccination centres in Balasore, Koraput and Angul districts.
The saffron party workers also brought down some such bill boards, sparking tension. Union Minister Pratap Sarangi, who represents Balasore in Lok Sabha, said "There is no point in displaying the CMs picture alone at the vaccination sites.
"Our workers wanted the picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi should also be properly displayed there. I will draw attention of the Centre in this regard". BJD vice-president and MLA Debiprasad Mishra, however, justified the display of Patnaiks pictures at the vaccination sites, saying "though the centre is funding vaccines the state has the key role in inspiring people to get inoculated." He alleged that the Covid-19 vaccination progarmme is being politicised despite the fact that public money is being utilised for the inoculation drive.
"The Covid-19 vaccine should not be dubbed as Modi vaccine, Stalin vaccine, Nitish vaccine or Naveen vaccine", Mishra said. M K Stalin is the new chief minister of Tamil Nadu while Nitish Kumar is heading the NDA government in Bihar.
BJP which replaced Congress as the main opposition in Odisha after 2019 state election has been confronting the ruling Biju Janata Dal politically on several issues. Mishra wondered why some people are intolerant towards the hoardings or photos of Patnaik being placed at the vaccination centres.
"Above all, Naveen is a popular leader whose appeal reaches people. Some people want to create a controversy out of nothing to get political mileage,"he said. BJD's MLA from Balasore Swarup Das said, "we have no problem in PM's picture in the vaccination certificate…why the BJP leaders are objecting to Naveen Patnaik's photo at vaccination centres?" In Angul, some BJP workers also tore down the chief minister's posters at the vaccination centres.
Earlier, the Prime Minister had announced free of cost Covid-19 vaccine to all Indian citizens above 18 years of age from June 21. The Odisha government earlier in the day ramped up vaccination drive setting a goal to inoculate at least 3 lakh people every day.