BJP MLAs walk out of Rajasthan Assembly over minister's COVID-19 vaccine shortage remark

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Jaipur, Mar 10 (PTI) The issue of COVID-19 vaccine shortage stormed the Rajasthan Assembly on Wednesday with BJP legislators walking out of the House following heated arguments with Health Minister Raghu Sharma.

While replying to the discussion on demands related to medical and public health, Sharma said that as on March 8, 4.40 lakh doses of the vaccine were available with the state.

The number of doses left is less as the state is administering about two lakh shots per day, the minister said.

'We were forced to reduce the vaccination speed and only 60,000 doses were administered on March 9,' Sharma added.

To this, Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore said the minister had first named the prime minister and then accused the central government of asking the state to slow down the pace of the vaccination drive.

'There can be no greater sin than depriving people of the second dose. Injustice has been done to Rajasthan,' he said.

Other BJP legislators also joined Rathore, and later, Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria said the ruling party should not politicise the vaccination drive as that would neither be in the interest of the state or the country.

The health minister responded to this, saying, 'I want to request the government of India through this House that we do not want to do any politics. Our main motive is that we are on top in vaccination, and we want to keep going. We have all the facilities. The central government should give us a buffer stock and give it at least for seven days.' Amid the din, Opposition legislators staged a walkout.

Sharma informed the House that the state received 6.78 lakh doses from the Union Health Ministry on Wednesday evening.

On Tuesday, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had said administering of the first dose of the vaccine was discontinued at PHC/CHC level in some districts due to shortage of vaccines.

BJP state president Satish Poonia had targeted the state government over Gehlot's comment.

'Chief minister's claim that there is no vaccine in the state is shallow. The Union Health Ministry is saying that about 37.61 lakh vaccines were sent, while the Congress government is giving account of 24.28 lakh. Where did the rest of the vaccine go? Is there a scam in this too,' he asked in a tweet.

Following the reply given by the health minister, the House passed the demands related to medical and public health by voice vote. PTI AG IJT