Opposition leaders question Jagan, Patnaik’s letters to CMs on vaccination

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh. File photo   | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Opposition leaders remain sceptical about the recent letters written by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to other Chief Ministers criticising the Centre’s vaccination policy.


Unlike Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his Jharkhand counterpart Hemant Soren’s letters, where they demanded universally free vaccines, both Mr. Reddy and Mr. Patnaik have limited themselves to supply side problems and demanded that the Centre should handle the procurement. Mr Patnaik said the global manufacturers were looking at the Union government for clearances and assurances. Mr. Reddy was more upfront in conceding that the global tender floated by the Andhra government did not receive any bidders because the situation had been reduced to “centre vs state”. “The decision of giving the States a larger say in the vaccination procurement was something that was unwarranted,” Mr. Reddy wrote.


Mr. Patnaik talked about arriving at a “consensus”, while Mr. Reddy wrote about the necessity to speak in “one voice”.


Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has questioned both the Chief Ministers asking them to question Prime Minister Narendra Modi instead of writing to fellow Chief Ministers.

To Mr. Reddy, he said, “All I ask Jagan is: who made the vaccine issue Union vs States? Who unilaterally decided the Union govt will abdicate vaccinating 18-44 year olds? Why weren’t states consulted before this policy was rolled out? Why don’t you ask the PM these questions?”


For Mr. Patnaik also, Mr. Ramesh had a similar response. “It’s all very well for Odisha CM to write to all CMs, but why can’t he write to PM & persuade him? After all, BJD has always supported BJP in Parliament for past 7 years. Several like-minded parties have already written to PM earlier asking for procurement of vaccines by Union Govt,” he tweeted.


The Opposition scepticism also stems from the fact that both Mr. Patnaik’s BJD and Mr. Reddy’s YSR Congress have often found themselves on the ruling BJP side on critical issues in Parliament.


CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said that both Mr. Patnaik and Mr. Reddy, along with other Chief Ministers, should ensure that the Centre is not allowed to abdicate its elementary responsibility. “So far the BJD and the YSR Congress have supported the BJP government in Parliament. Now it is upto them to put pressure on the Centre to conduct free and universal vaccination like all the past governments in India have done.”


CPI general secretary D Raja said, “I believe both the Chief Ministers should take an unambiguous position and question the failure of the Union government in the vaccination programme and over all handling of the pandemic”.


The Opposition leaders are also not confident that these letters would be the first step for the BJD and the YSR Congress to join the bigger Opposition bloc.


Trinamool Congress leader Yashwant Sinha said, “The issues raised by the two Chief Ministers are immediate and practical concerns. If the Government of India’s response is not favourable, they could be persuaded to join the other parties. But at present, it is too early to say”.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 2:36:24 PM |

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