Gujarat minister and BJP leader Yogesh Patel on Monday stirred controversy by suggesting that free food grains under the Central scheme be allotted only to the COVID-19 vaccinated people. Hitting back, opposition Congress said the BJP government in Gujarat had no right to bring in such a rule as the Centre had not made coronavirus vaccination compulsory to avail of any benefits under public welfare schemes. Speaking to reporters in Vadodara, Patel said he will make a representation to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and the new district collector of Vadodara about introducing a “new scheme", apparently to increase vaccination percentage.
“I will make a representation to the new district collector and also to the CM that let’s bring in a new scheme. The Centre recently announced to distribute free food grains till Diwali. I suggest that free food grains be given only to those people who have received the (COVID-19) jabs," the Manjalpur MLA who is Minister of State for the Narmada and Urban Housing department said. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that the government will distribute free food grains to around 80 crore needy people till Diwali this year as part of relief to the poor amid the second wave of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader from Vadodara Ami Ravat has termed the minister’s suggestion “absurd". “This is an absurd suggestion. When the Centre itself has not made vaccination compulsory for availing of benefits then why a Gujarat minister is suggesting so? While the BJP at the Centre claims that they will give free grain to the poor, local BJP leaders are coming up with ideas to see that the poor do not get it." said Ravat, Leader of Opposition in the Vadodara Municipal Corporation.