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The Narendra Modi government’s announcement to open vaccinations for all adults in India starting May 1 has triggered a rush among political parties claiming credit for having pushed the Centre to take the decision. Opposition leaders made a beeline, taking to social media platforms soon after the announcement to suggest that they were the first among all to demand that the government allow vaccines for all adults, and that the government had acted upon their advice.
Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi wrote a letter to thank Health Minister Dr Harshvardhan for accepting their demand. “I thank our Health Min, who on our request, announced a more liberal vaccine policy in phase 3 especially lowering the vaccine eligibility,” she wrote on Twitter sharing the letter. In the letter, she said, “Our requests made to you via letters, petitions and video calls are not political. It is with a sense of responsibility, unity and spirit of fighting this covid battle as one country, one people that we place them to you.”
I thank our Health Min, who on our request, announced a more liberal vaccine policy in phase 3 especially lowering the vaccine eligibility. Appeals made to him aren’t political but made with a sense of responsibility&spirit of fighting the covid battle as one country. ???????? pic.twitter.com/hdXvFyXyGc
— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) April 20, 2021
TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien claimed that the decision was taken following Mamata Banerjee’s demand. “So the megalomaniac finally listened to India’s only woman Chief Minister,” he said on Twitter.
So the megalomaniac finally listened to India’s only woman Chief Minister #VaccineForAll
— Derek O’Brien | ডেরেক ও’ব্রায়েন (@derekobrienmp) April 19, 2021
Congress also did not hold its horses back as its leaders claimed that Rahul Gandhi and former PM Manmohan Singh had requested the government for opening up of the vaccination programme to cover a larger population. In an apparent reference to vaccination for all, Rahul Gandhi had on April 7 said that ‘it’s ridiculous to debate needs and wants as every Indian deserves the chance to a safe life.
It’s ridiculous to debate needs & wants.
Every Indian deserves the chance to a safe life. #CovidVaccine
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 7, 2021
Former PM Manmohan Singh had written to PM Modi on April 18 requesting the Centre to allow states to define categories of workers for vaccination. “State should be given some flexibility to define categories of frontline workers who can be vaccinated even if they are below 45 years of age. For example, states may want to designate school teachers, bus, three-wheeler and taxi drivers, municipal and panchayat staff, and possibly lawyers who have to attend Courts as frontline workers,” he had said in the letter.
Congress Rajya Sabha MP P Chidambaram said that the nation is gratified to know that practically all the suggestions in Dr Manmohan Singh’s letter have been accepted by the government. Saying that it’s better late than never, he added, “Two suggestions remain: ONE, there is an immediate need to provide funds to the manufacturers of the two India-made vaccines to ramp up production…TWO, there is an urgent need to invoke the provision of compulsory licensing of the India-made vaccines. That is the only way to use the enormous vaccine manufacturing capacity in India.”
TWO, there is an urgent need to invoke the provision of compulsory licensing of the India-made vaccines. That is the only way to use the enormous vaccine manufacturing capacity in India.
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) April 19, 2021
Meanwhile, the BJP came under sharp attack from Opposition parties after it came to light that former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis’ 23-year-old nephew Tanmay Fadnavis had jumped the queue to get both jabs of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Even the Prime Minister waited for his turn to get vaccinated, didn’t flout rules but Fadnavis ji works by his own rules. Same for journalists who should have ideally been considered frontline workers yet not vaccinated while they report from the field because privileged they aren’t,” said Priyanka Chaturvedi in a tweet.
BJP spokesperson Ram Kadam has said that Tanmay Fadnavis is a distant relative of Devendra Fadnavis and maintained that the former CM follows all rules. Kadam said that Devendra Fadnavis’ wife has not yet been vaccinated and this in itself clarifies that Devendra Fadnavis follows rules. He also questioned the Maha Vikas Aghadi government over the alleged vaccination of the mayor and all the corporators of the Thane corporation flouting rules.