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Rahul Gandhi tweets ‘offending’ poster, dares Delhi Police to ‘Arrest me too’

Congress Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh on May 16, 2021 pasted at his Delhi residence a poster for which 24 persons were arrested by Delhi Police. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Challenging the arrests of 24 persons by the Delhi police for posters that surfaced across the city questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to donate vaccines to neighbouring countries, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi posted the ‘offending’ poster on his Twitter account daring the police to arrest him.

All the posters uniformly pose the question: “Modiji humare bachon ka vaccine videsh kyon bhej diya?” (Why did you send vaccines meant for our children abroad?). Mr Gandhi said, “Arrest me too.”

Nearly six crore doses of vaccines have been sent out to various countries. So far, a little over four crore persons have got both doses in India and 14 crore people have got a single dose as per the latest numbers on the centralised vaccination website CoWin.

The persons were arrested under a rarely used law of “Prevention of Defacement of Property Act” and most of them have been released on bail. “Celebrate, India is a free country. There is freedom of speech, except, when you ask a question of the Honourable Prime Minister,” senior Congress leader and former Home Minister P. Chidambaram wrote on Twitter. He said the poster asks a simple question and before PM Modi could answer the Delhi police had answered with arrest.

Congress Chief Whip in the Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh pasted the poster next to his nameplate at his official residence opposite the Lodhi Garden.

“I am shocked and stunned. May vehemently disagree but under what authority, what law, what power can you arrest those who put up posters,” Rajya Sabha MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi said. He said this “smacks of a lawless state gone amuck”.

 

Later at a press conference, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said who else does one pose the question to if not the government. The vaccine policy was centralised. It was the Union government that held the initial negotiations with the manufacturers, he said. And it was also their decision when they believed that India had already won its war against COVID to cart off the vaccines to other nations. “Narendra Modi wanted to be known as the vaccine guru of the world. So it is obvious that only one person — Mr. Modi — alone can answer these questions.”

He said the vaccine policy was kept centralised till the situation was in control. As soon as it went out of hand, the Centre handed over the power to the States to negotiate on their own with the manufacturers. “You can’t have centralised decision making and decentralised responsibility.” The vaccine diplomacy was all for building Mr. Modi’s image alone, he said.

The BJP is now trying to disown their own campaign of “vaccine diplomacy”. Its spokesperson Sambit Patra recently claimed that only one crore doses out of the six went as an aid for the neighbouring countries; the remaining were part of contractual obligations of the two manufacturers — Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute with other countries, about which the government could not have done anything.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury pointed out that the vaccination drive has slowed down. “As the pandemic surges relentlessly claiming countless lives, vaccination drive is in shambles. Since mid April vaccination dropped significantly. May 14 saw 18.7 lakh compared to 34.7 lakh on April 14. Start free universal mass vaccination now,” he tweeted.


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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 5:34:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rahul-gandhi-dares-delhi-police-to-arrest-me-too-posts-offending-poster-on-twitter/article34571349.ece

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