Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation and announced the change in vaccination policy, after several opposition-ruled states failed in achieving the targets, despite being given the authority on the vaccine procurement and distribution plan as they had been asking.
During the first phase of vaccination, the Centre assumed responsibility for both the procurement and distribution and there were hardly any hiccups during the drive. Then the opposition parties and the friendly media, allegedly advocated for the decentralisation of the vaccination program, reminding PM Modi that health is a state subject, and the Centre should not ‘control’ everything.
While PM Modi took the control back from states in his speech, the opposition parties and its leaders like clockwork accuracy came out of their burrow holes and unashamedly started claiming that it was their ideas that the PM had ultimately copied.
Former Union Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram during his interaction with ANI questioned which state government demanded decentralisation of the process trying to put the blame on the Centre for a ‘poor policy’.
However, the Congress leader soon had a facepalm moment when the netizens showed him the letters of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and his party scion Rahul Gandhi, asking for states to be given the authority to procure vaccines.
After being called out, Chidambaram took to Twitter to issue an apology for creating the kerfuffle but used the shoulder of Mamata Banerjee to fire the gun whilst conveniently omitting Rahul Gandhi’s letter from his apology statement.
“I told ANI ‘please tell us which state government demanded that it should be allowed to directly procure vaccines’. Social media activists have posted the copy of the letter of CM, West Bengal to PM making such a request. I was wrong. I stand corrected,” tweeted Chidambaram.
I told ANI ‘please tell us which state government demanded that it should be allowed to directly procure vaccines’
Social media activists have posted the copy of the letter of CM, West Bengal to PM making such a request.
I was wrong. I stand corrected.
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) June 7, 2021
Then came Samajwadi Party Chief Akhilesh Yadav, who after spreading vaccine hesitancy amongst the public for the major part of the last 6-7 months said that the change in India’s vaccine policy meant that he will now take part in the vaccination drive.
“We were against BJP’s vaccine, but welcome the vaccine of ‘Government of India’. We will also get vaccinated and would appeal to all those who could not get it due to a lack of vaccine doses,” said Akhilesh Yadav.
As reported by TFI, earlier this year, Akhilesh Yadav had called the vaccines given the ‘emergency use authorisation’ by the centre as “BJP’s vaccine” and simultaneously denied the existence of the pandemic.
‘Where is the pandemic?” he had told reporters in Lucknow, adding, “I am sitting before you (reporters) without wearing a mask. BJP is only trying to create fear in the minds of the people. It does not want the Opposition parties to hold any programs.”
— News24 (@news24tvchannel) January 2, 2021
Similarly, Shiv Sena and NCP patted their own back after PM’s decision yesterday and further added that the decision came due to questioning of the government’s vaccine policy by the Supreme Court.
However, as it turns out, Maharashtra was one of the first states to demand of the Centre that it be allowed to procure vaccines independently. There was a cabinet resolution in this regard in April, and in the first week of May, Uddhav Thackeray wrote to the PM reiterating this demand.
As reported by TFI, Mumbai Mayor and Shiv Sena spokesperson, Kishori Pednekar, under her supervision had floated the failed tender to invite vaccine manufacturing companies to supply the vaccine jabs to the state.
However, with no advance payment, and an impractical order of one crore vaccine jabs to be delivered within three weeks after placing the order – the manufacturing companies simply turned their back on the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. Thus it is a bit rich that Shiv Sena and NCP are claiming that their government and Justice Chandrachud should be given credit for the PM’s decision.
The opposition in India is pretty fickle having a demented memory of its own doings. The government of India under PM Modi has played them superbly but the opposition is now quickly changing the goalposts so as to save its face. However, as the apology of Chidambaram and the U-turn of Akhilesh Yadav shows — it is the government that is having the last laugh.