Modi govt changed vaccination policy under pressure from SC, Opposition: Left

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New Delhi, Jun 7 (PTI) The Left parties Monday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi 'abandoned' his government's 'discriminatory' immunisation policy, 'fearing' a Supreme Court directive for universal free vaccination, and under Opposition pressure.

Modi in an address to the nation announced that the central government will provide free vaccines to states for all above 18 years starting June 21.

'Trying to defend his dubious discriminatory vaccine policy by passing the buck on to State governments. Now Modi abandons his policy, fearing a Supreme Court directive for a free and universal vaccination programme by the Centre,' tweeted CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

He also demanded that all paperworks behind the policy shift has to be shared.

'That took a toll. Thousands of lives were lost as Centre's poor policy abandoned the people of this country. The Union Government and the BJP must learn to accept responsibility for its failures when people of this country have paid with their lives. This incessant focus on spin and PR is an assault on and insult to the millions who perished in the pandemic,” Yechury said.

CPI general secretary D Raja alleged while the government ignored the pressure from the opposition parties, it was the Supreme Court that pushed Modi to change his stand.

“The opposition parties, including ours, have been demanding universal, free vaccines and free food grains for the vulnerable. The government did not listen to the opposition and then the Supreme Court had to step in. Vaccination is the government's responsibility, it is not an act of charity. And Mr Modi must remember this is a collective fight of both the state and the centre,' Raja said.

Yehcury also said that the Opposition parties had maintained pressure on the government to stop “attempting to blame” states run by non-BJP parties over the vaccine issue. He said the Kerala Chief Minister had written to the PM as early as on May 2.

Modi also said in his address that the Centre has decided to buy 75 per cent of jabs from vaccine makers, including 25 per cent of the state quota, and give it for free to state governments.

Yechury said, “Continuous pressure, Supreme Court's Orders pushed Modi government's hand. Why this 25 per cent? All Indians have the right to a public vaccine. This is people's money. No largesse of this government.” The Left leader, who himself had written to the PM demanding free and universal vaccination, also said it was the centre that allowed “superspreader” religious gatherings like the Kumbh Mela and the mega election rallies.

“At this time, Modi must also be feeling the negative effect of this on the people with losses in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. The Modi government must now sincerely implement the free and universal vaccination campaign and not look for excuses. There is a lot to be done. Many lives to be saved,” he said.

CPIML general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya called the announcement by the PM “belated” and “piecemeal”.

“#UniversalFreeVaccination can be the only rational state policy to deal with a pandemic like #Covid19. The lack of a clear policy and its rapid implementation has already caused India much avoidable damage. Belated piecemeal announcements do not really meet this policy deficit,” he said in a tweet. PTI ASG TIR TIR

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