New Delhi, Jul 13 (PTI) Congress leader P Chidambaram on Tuesday hit out at the government's COVID-19 inoculation programme, terming its promise of vaccinating all adults by December end as an 'empty boast' and a 'false promise'.
He claimed that Odisha and Delhi are facing vaccine shortage and asked the Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to spell out his plans to ensure regular and uninterrupted supply of vaccines to states.
'Vaccine shortage is a fact. Vaccine production is exaggerated. Vaccine import is a mystery. Vaccinating the entire adult population by December 2021 is an empty boast,' the former Union minister said.
'Will the new health minister Mansukh Mandaviya tell the nation the truth about the vaccination programme,' Chidambaram asked.
He said the Covid situation was 'bad' in the country and states and union territories like Odisha and Delhi have run out of vaccines.
Chidambaram also said that only 33 lakh vaccines were administered on Monday against the need for inoculating 80 lakh people every day to achieve the target of vaccinating all adults by December end.
'There is no way they can reach the target. The claim that there are enough vaccines, is a false claim. The assessment of vaccine production in the country is an exaggerated assessment,' he said.
'The statement that supply to the states is regular, uninterrupted is a false claim. They claimed that we will inoculate the entire adult population by the end of the year, is an empty boast. I mean, they should be reliable with the people,' Chidambaram said.
The Congress leader said that the health minister should speak the truth to the people and remember what happened to his predecessor, who 'was his master's voice'.
'The new health minister must realise that he should level with the people and tell us exactly what is the actual production, what are the actual imports, nothing has been imported except Sputnik?' Chidambaram said.
'He should at the first opportunity level with the people of India and tell us the truth. The price Dr Harsh Vardhan paid, is because, he was not telling the truth, even though he knew the truth, he is a medical doctor, but he was being his master's voice,' the Congress leader said.
'Will the new health minister Mansukh Mandaviya please tell us how he plans to ensure regular, adequate and uninterrupted supply of vaccines to the states,' he said.
Odisha is governed by the BJD, an ally of the BJP. What has the central government, which dismissed complaints of vaccine shortage, got to say now, Chidambaram asked.
He also claimed that the third wave 'will be worse'.
'I am not trying to frighten anybody. I wish and pray that there will be no third wave, but, if the third wave strikes this country, it will make the situation worse,' Chidambaram said.
He also asked the government that this is the time to take pre-emptive action, by not only increasing hospital beds or oxygen cylinders or vaccines, but also by trying to cushion the economic impact of a possible third wave on the people.
'But, this government doesn't seem to care. It doesn't seem to care how people are suffering,' he alleged.
The Congress has been criticising the government over its vaccination programme alleging that it is slow. PTI SKC ANB ANB