(Eds: Adds details, quotes, minor edits in para 1 & 14) Bengaluru, May 14 (PTI) The Congress' Karnataka unit on Friday announced that the party MPs, MLAs and MLCs will use their Local Area Development fund to the tune of Rs 100 crore for procuring vaccines.
'The government has miserably failed to protect the people and vaccinate people. Hence, the MPs, MLAs and MLCs of the Congress, who are 95 in number have decided to donate at least Rs one crore each to procure vaccines,' former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who is also the Congress legislative party leader, said at a press conference here.
According to him, a total of Rs 100 crore will be given by Congress leaders of Karnataka for the purpose.
The Congress stalwart said, 'This is an unprecedented decision in the history of Karnataka.' The state Congress chief D K Shivakumar, who accompanied Siddaramaiah, said the Congress parliamentarians and legislators are ready to stop development works in their areas.
'We are ready to stop all the development works in our area. It is our bounden duty to save lives rather than carry out development works,' he added.
He said the party will write to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa to utilise their funds for vaccine procurement.
Later in a statement, the state Congress unit said it needed two small permissions, one from the central government and another from the state government to allow diversion of LAD funds for vaccine procurement.
'My appeal to the BJP is to not let politics come in the way and in the spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat allow Congress to directly procure and administer vaccines,' it quoted Shivakumar as saying.
Currently, vaccine procurement rules in India allow central and state governments, hospitals and industries to directly procure vaccines, the party said.
The Congress had a Rs 100 crore plan to kick-start the vaccination drive, of which Rs 10 crore was being contributed by the Karnataka Congress party fund, the party explained adding another Rs 90 crore can come from the Congress MLA/MLC funds.
'I appeal to the Yediyurappa government to please allow us to use the MLA/MLC funds to procure vaccines directly in a transparent manner because the Modi and Yediyurappa governments are failing to do so for months now,' party quoted Shivakumar.
The two leaders flayed Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers D V Sadananda Gowda for his 'suicide by hanging' remark.
Gowda on Thursday had sought to know whether people in the government should hang themselves for their failure to produce vaccines as directed by the court.
Following the alarming rise in infections in the state, the demand for COVID vaccines has grown manifold.
The government has said it will give vaccines to all free of cost once it arrives from the two manufacturers in the country -- Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech.
Karnataka on Thursday reported 35,297 fresh coronavirus infections taking the overall tally to 20,88,488.
There were 5,93,078 active cases as of Thursday.PTI GMS SS PTI PTI