Drubbed for 'BJP Vaccine' Remark, Akhilesh Says Govt Shouldn’t Make 'Spectacle' Out of Vaccination Drive
File photo of Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav (Reuters)
In damage control mode after refusing to take “BJP’s vaccine”, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday said the ruling party should not make a "spectacle" out of Covid-19 vaccination and should launch the inoculation drive only after making solid arrangements in advance.
Taking to Twitter, Yadav also asked the government to announce the dates on which economically weaker sections of the population will be vaccinated.
“Covid-19 vaccination is a sensitive process. I urge the BJP government not to make a ceremonial spectacle of it and only launch the drive after making solid arrangements in advance. It’s a question of people’s lives, hence we can’t risk course correction later. The government should also announce a date to vaccinate poorer sections of the society,” he said.
कोरोना का टीकाकरण एक संवेदनशील प्रक्रिया है इसीलिए भाजपा सरकार इसे कोई सजावटी-दिखावटी इवेंट न समझे और अग्रिम पुख़्ता इंतज़ामों के बाद ही शुरू करे. ये लोगों के जीवन का विषय है अत: इसमें बाद में सुधार का ख़तरा नहीं उठाया जा सकता है. गरीबों के टीकाकरण की निश्चित तारीख़ घोषित हो.— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) January 3, 2021
Akhilesh Yadav had on Saturday set off a political storm, saying he wouldn’t accept a “BJP vaccine” as an expert panel gave the country’s first emergency use approval to Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine. "How can I trust the vaccine, which will be used for vaccination by the BJP? We cannot get vaccinated by the BJP's vaccine," he told reporters.
The statement drew sharp rebuke not just from the BJP, but also from former J&K chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, who said the vaccine does not belong to any party but to humanity. "I don't know about anyone else but when my turn comes, I'll happily roll up my sleeve & get a COVID vaccine," Abdullah tweeted.
Yadav's remarks also prompted a retort from BJP leader and Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya who termed his statement an "insult to the doctors and scientists of the country".
"Akhilesh Yadav does not have trust in the vaccine and people of Uttar Pradesh do not have the trust in Akhilesh Yadav. His raising questions on the vaccine is an insult to doctors and scientists of the country. He should tender an apology," Maurya told reporters.
During his press conference, Yadav had also said his party will come to power in the state after 2022 elections and everybody will get the vaccine for free then. Later, in a tweet in Hindi, Yadav said, “We have full faith in the efficiency of scientists but do not trust the unscientific thinking of the BJP and the medical arrangements of the BJP government administering vaccines which had been lying almost inactive during the corona times.”
India is set to launch one of the world’s largest adult inoculation drives soon with the regulator likely to formally announce emergency use approval for Oxford-AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech vaccines on Sunday.