Mumbai, Apr 7 (PTI) The Congress in Maharashtra on Wednesday slammed the Centre for rejecting the demand to open COVID-19 vaccination for more age groups and accused it of adopting a non-co-operative attitude towards the state, which is the worst hit by the pandemic in the country.
State Congress president Nana Patole said the Centre and the BJP will have to face serious consequences if adequate doses of COVID-19 vaccines are not provided to Maharashtra, which is in the grip of a raging second wave of the pandemic.
Responding to the demand for opening up vaccination to everyone above the age of 18 or to lower the minimum age criteria, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan has said the current inoculation strategy has been drawn up after extensive deliberations.
At present, everyone above the age of 45 is eligible to get vaccine doses against COVID-19, which has seen a resurgence in the last few weeks, triggering demands to open the inoculation drive for all adults.
Vardhan, in a statement, said the current vaccination strategy has been drawn up after extensive deliberations and and consultations with all state governments.
Given a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases across the country, there is no option but to accelerate and expand the vaccination drive, Patole said.
He said due to the Centres indifferent attitude, only three states have completed vaccination of 5 per cent of their total population.
So far, only 8.30 crore people have been vaccinated (partially or fully) in the country.
Congress leader Anant Gadgil saidVardhan's comments criticising Maharashtra, a non-BJP-ruled state, over its handling of the pandemic and the vaccination drive was politically motivated.
He said the Centresvaccinationpolicywas in a 'total mess'.
Gadgil said Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Topes statement, that only3-day stockof the vaccineisleftand theCentrehasnotyetsuppliedtherequireddoses, clearly indicatesadeliberatedesigntomalignthe state's image.
'Ideally,the Centreshouldhavegiven morestocks toMaharashtra and permittedthe state governmenttoentirely vaccinatebadly affected districts instead of insisting on 60 or45-plusage group and people with co-morbidities,' Gadgil said.
'The vaccine producingcapacityofBharat Biotech and and SerumInstitute is2.5 crore doses per year put together as per newsreports. At this rateitwilltakeyearsforall Indians to get vaccinated,' Gadgil said.
He sought to know why the Centre was not permitting foreignpharmacompanieswhohavesuccessfullyproducedCOVID- 19 vaccines tosupply their jabs in the Indianmarket.
Gadgilraised thequestion of low COVID-19 case counts in election-boundstatesandasked whythe entirenational mediaistalking only about the situation inMaharashtra.
'Has anyoneheardthe PM or the HomeMinister appealingtopeople tomaintainsocial distancing in anyof their electionrallies,' Gadgilasked.
State Congress spokesman Atul Londhe said the people of Maharashtra, too, are citizens of the country.
The central government should clarify what kind of coronavirus is causing widespread infection in the state so that the right kind of treatment can be given to patients, Londhe said.
'We expect that the lives of common people are not comprised just to ensure you return,' Londhe said, alluding to BJP leader Devendra Fadnaviss 'I will return' remark of 2019 about coming back to power in the state.
Meanwhile, Fadnavis said Vardhan has set the record straight with his comments on the vaccination drive even as he slammed the Shiv Sena-led MVA government in the state.
The Leader of Opposition in the assembly tweeted, 'An eye opener by Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan ji, to set the record straight, especially for MVA Govt leaders desperate to hide their fallacies by spreading lies about GoI on COVID19 management & vaccination.
'To play politics is always easy, but improving governance is the real test!'. PTI MR RSY RSY