Union Minister Pratap Sarangi on October 25 said that all Indians will be given free COVID-19 vaccine, amidst the demand by Opposition parties in the country for it and not only in poll-bound Bihar as announced by the BJP.
The BJP announcement of free COVID-19 vaccine for Bihar had kicked up a controversy with the Opposition parties tearing into the NDA government alleging that the ruling party was using the pandemic for political reasons .
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the announcement was in order as it was an election manifesto announcement.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that all people will be provided vaccines free of cost. An estimated ₹500 will be spent on vaccination of each person,” Mr. Sarangi told reporters after addressing a campaign meeting for the November 3 Assembly bypoll in Balasore.
Mr. Modi in a televised adddress to the nation on October 20 said that Indian scientists are in the process of developing several vaccines that are at different stages of clinical trials and the results seem encouraging.
Mr. Sarangi, the Union Minister of State for Animal Husbandry, Dairy, Fisheries and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises,was responding to a question raised by Odisha Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister R.P. Swain.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Swain sought clarification from Dharmendra Pradhan and Mr. Sarangi, the two Union Ministers from Odisha questioning them for their silence on the BJP’s stand on free COVID-19 vaccination for the people of the State along the lines of the one being promised in Bihar.
The governments of Tamil Nadu , Madhya Pradesh , Assam and Puduchchery have already announced free of cost COVID-19 vaccines in their States, while Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has demanded free vaccine for all citizens across the country .
Mr. Swain tweeted: “I am asking questions to two Odisha union ministers from Balasore soil to clarify as to why the people of the state will not get free of cost COVID vaccine. The union ministers should clarify BJPs stand on the corona vaccination in Odisha.”
On the State government’s steps for vaccination, Mr. Swain said it has signed an agreement with a vaccine manufacturer and is committed to extend the facility to all people of the State. He, however, did not say whether the State government will provide the vaccine to the people free of cost.