‘All Indians Have Right to Free COVID Vaccine’: Delhi CM Kejriwal

The Quint
·3-min read

Whenever ready, the coronavirus vaccine should be available to all Indians for free, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday, 24 October. His statement comes at a time when several leaders have been criticised for using a life-saving drug as a poll promise.

"The whole country should get free vaccine, the whole country has the right," Kejriwal said, while inaugurating a new flyover in Delhi's Shastri Park and Seelampur.

Earlier, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief took a swipe at the ruling party, asking if Indians who did not vote for them would get free vaccines.

"What about non-BJP ruled states? Indians who didn't vote BJP will not get free COVID vaccine?," the party had asked on social media.

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday, 22 October, announced free COVID vaccine as one of the poll promises by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections.

“As and when the vaccine candidates that are currently under various levels of trials in the country get scientific clearances and a go-ahead for production, the people of Bihar will get vaccination for free once the production in India is on a large scale. This is our first poll promise as mentioned in the manifesto,” she said.

On the same day, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami said, “When the coronavirus vaccine is developed, it will be administered free of cost to the people of the state, with the government bearing all costs.”

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, too, announced that the poor people in the state would be given the vaccine free of cost.

In its mouthpiece Saamana, Shiv Sena, too criticised the BJP and said that not only Bihar, but other states of the country should get free COVID-19 vaccines as well.

"Bihar should get vaccine but other states of our country are not Pakistan. Why do politics over coronavirus vaccine when the whole country is badly suffering from the virus, it is not just only Bihar. All have equal rights over the vaccine," the party said in the editorial.

Also Read: Free COVID Vaccine For All Americans If Elected, Pledges Joe Biden

The Bihar poll promise has been criticised widely by people and Opposition leaders, for misusing a life-saving drug for their own political agenda, with some using the hashtag #vaccineelectionism.

Congress MP and former union minister Shashi Tharoor tweeted, "Tum mujhe vote do main tumhe vaccine (Give me votes, I will give you vaccine)... what appalling cynicism! Will the Election Commission rap her and her shameless government on the knuckles?"

Congress President Rahul Gandhi also took a jibe at BJP. “To know when you will get the vaccine and false promises, please check your election date,” his tweet read.

Also Read: In Final Prez Debate, Trump Says COVID Vaccine ‘Weeks Away’

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah called it blatant populism.

"Will BJP be paying for these vaccines from the party treasury? If it's coming from the government treasury then how can Bihar get free vaccines while the rest of the country has to pay? There is so much wrong with this blatant populism that shamefully exploits COVID fears," the former J&K chief minister wrote.

Actor-politician Kamal Haasan said in a tweet, “Evil promises are being made for something that is non-existent. Dear leaders, a COVID vaccine is a life-saving drug. You are used to playing with people's poverty and if you dare to play with their lives, your political lifetime will be decided by people.”

India has logged over 78 lakh cases, with Delhi with more than 3.48 lakh COVID-19 cases so far.

Also Read: ‘Perfectly in Order’: FM Sitharaman on Free COVID Vaccine Promise

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