Bihar

Bihar Assembly Elections | Will COVID-19 care depend on polls, asks Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi took a dig at the Narendra Modi government, saying people should now look at the State-wise election schedule to find out when they will get the vaccine.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Opposition leaders across the political spectrum on Thursday took on the BJP after the party promised to provide free COVID-19 vaccine to the people of Bihar, and accused the party of trying to ‘politicise’ a public health issue that affects every State equally.

Also Read | Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel hits out BJP over free vaccine promise

Several leaders also asking the Election Commission (EC) to take suo moto cognisance of the issue.

Link to elections

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi took a dig at the Narendra Modi government, saying people should now look at the State-wise election schedule to find out when they will get the vaccine.

“GOI just announced India’s Covid access strategy. Kindly refer to the State-wise election schedule to know when will you get it, along with a hoard of false promises,” Mr. Gandhi tweeted.

The main Opposition in Bihar, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), accused the BJP of selling “the fear of death and disease” .

“The vaccine belongs to India and not the BJP. The politicisation of the vaccine proves that they have no other option except to sell the fear of disease and death. Biharis have self respect and they won’t sell the future of their children for a few rupees.” the RJD’s official handle tweeted.

Also Read | Bihar Assembly elections: Congress to stress need for change

Using a video clip of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s comment at the BJP’s Bihar manifesto release event, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said, “You vote for me and I will give vaccine.... what appalling cynicism! Will the Election Commission rap her & her shameless Govt on the knuckles?”

As the issue snowballed into a major controversy, senior BJP leader Bhupender Yadav stepped in and accused Mr. Tharoor of twisting Ms. Sitharaman’s statement. “Your attempt to twist Smt Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement reeks of desperation. All parties issue manifestos. Vaccines will be made available to all Indians at nominal costs. States can make it free. In #Bihar, we will,” Mr. Yadav said.

Free, universal regimes

The Congress’s official twitter handle pointed out that every major vaccination programme, from small pox to polio, has been free in India over the years, and asked if the BJP government intends to reverse the policy.

While National Conference leader Omar Abdullah called the BJP’s statement a case of “blatant populism that shamefully expoits COVID fears”, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav called it “opportunistic politics”.

Also Read | COVID-19 vaccine will be provided free in Tamil Nadu, says Edappadi Palaniswami

“Vaccines for votes is a shameful thing on the part of the BJP and the people will give a fitting reply,” CPI General Secretary D. Raja said.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, in a tweet, asked, “With this poll promise @bjp4india has implied that the citizens of other non-election States will have to pay for the vaccine”.

Chhattisgarh’s Health Minister T.S. Singh Deo asked the EC take cognizance of the matter as “the Modi Government can't be selective about free access to COVID Vaccine depending on electoral results”.

Echoing such a sentiment, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) tweeted: “What about non-BJP ruled States? Indians who didn't vote BJP will not get free COVID vaccine?”

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2020 6:01:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/bihar-assembly/bihar-assembly-elections-opposition-takes-on-bjp-over-free-vaccine-promise-in-bihar/article32919867.ece

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