Asking PM Modi to acknowledge the course correction without trying to blame states, they demanded free vaccination for all, including those accessing private hospitals, in line with India’s universal vaccine policy of the past. The said letters to the PM from almost all opposition CMs and intervention from the Supreme Court had pressured the Centre.
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot questioned Modi for trying to blame states. “The PM must reveal which all states had demanded to purchase vaccines for the 18-44 age group. To my knowledge, not one state had made any such demand. Seems the PM has been misinformed by his advisors. I am happy the PM had to change his old decision in view of the public sentiment.”
Thanking Congress workers for the ‘Speak Up for Vaccination’ campaign and asserting the Congress leadership and other opposition parties had sought centrally-sponsored free anti-Covid-19 vaccination for all, right from the beginning, Gehlot recalled how former PM Manmohan Singh, the Gandhis and himself had written to the PM and how the government had to move the SC. “As a result of this, today Shri Narendra Modiji had to withdraw his wrong decision. However, he tried unsuccessfully to blame states for his earlier decision,” Gehlot added.
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh thanked the PM “for acceding to our request of central procurement and distribution of vaccine for all age groups.” He said he had written twice to Modi and health minister Harsh Vardhan, “suggesting this as the only feasible solution to” end the vaccine crisis.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said the PM’s announcement on free vaccines for all was a welcome change of policy. “Finally, a realisation of a flawed policy that led to the collapse of the national vaccination, after the government resisted for months appeals for equitable and universal vaccination. This is time for honest reflection. I wish this announcement was made in January,” he said.
Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala demanded that the PM extend free vaccination for those receiving the jabs from private hospitals too.
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said, “the Union government and the BJP must learn to accept responsibility for its failures when people of this country have paid with their lives. This incessant focus on spin and PR is an assault on and insult to the millions who perished in the pandemic. All the paperwork which made this government abandon the old national immunisation policy has to be shared.”
Jairam Ramesh said: “The prime minister inflicted a huge cost on the people of India before accepting the opposition’s demand for centralised procurement and free vaccination for 18-44 year olds. Humility and reaching out will not hurt him.”