PM responsible for second Covid wave, more to come if no vaccine strategy in place: Rahul

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New Delhi, May 28 (PTI) Attacking the government for its Covid management, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday held Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'nautanki' (theatrics) responsible for the second coronavirus wave and warned of more waves to come at the current rate of vaccination.

Calling on the government to quickly evolve a vaccine strategy for the entire population, he urged the prime minister to procure vaccines for all Indians and not indulge in a blame-game or find excuses.

Addressing an online press conference, he said India is the vaccine capital of the world and it is possible to escalate the inoculation drive as only 3 per cent of the people have received their jabs yet.

Gandhi also termed the prime minister an event manager and said it is time for him to show that he can organise vaccines for everyone.

'The PM is responsible for the second wave of virus, it is a result of his 'nautanki' and the lack of his responsibility that the people have entrusted him with,' he alleged.

'It is time for the prime minister to be a leader and display leadership skills and show courage and not come out with excuses and blame others,' he also said.

Hitting back at Gandhi, senior BJP leader and Union minister Prakash Javadekar alleged that his choice of words like 'nautanki' for the prime minister when Modi is working to curb Covid is part of the toolkit's script, referring to a controversial document about targeting the government.

Javadekar noted that the health ministry had recently given a roadmap about producing 216 crore doses by December and how 108 crore people will be vaccinated, as he rebutted Gandhi's claim that it may take three years to finish the exercise, considered critical to curb the disease.

In a tweet, Gandhi said, 'Bring the country together. Shut the space for viral spread. Stop the lies. Vaccinate extensively.' During the media interaction, he alleged that the Covid death rate in India is 'a lie'. The government, he said, is trying to spread lies and suppress information and that is why it is lying about the deaths. He also urged the government to not give the virus time or space and change the strategy.

This is not the time for spreading this lies, if we have to fight this war against Covid, the government should understand and tell the truth, he noted.

'My understanding and the understanding of experts is the current rate of vaccination of 3 per cent almost guarantees a third wave of virus when the lockdown goes, which is completely unnecessary,' he warned.

If the vaccination is at 50-60 per cent of the population, India would not have a third wave and certainly not a fourth or a fifth wave, Gandhi said.

'The problem is there is no strategy. The prime minister doesn't think strategically. He is an event manager. He thinks one event at a time. You don't need events now as events will kill people, you need a strategy. The aim of the strategy should be to shut the space for corona,' he said.

Going by the current pace of vaccination, the entire inoculation exercise will take another three years, till May 2024, and the country will witness several Covid waves by then, he claimed.

Gandhi said the prime minister created space for Covid to spread through his actions.

'You are the prime minister and the buck stops with you. The bottomline is that you are responsible,' he said.

Asking why vaccines were exported, he said the fact that India has so far vaccinated 3 per cent of its population means that 97 per cent can get the infection as 'the government has left the door open for the disease to spread'.

He also criticised the prime minister for exporting vaccines and said the vaccine diplomacy is 'insanity'. He questioned why the government did not act when he had warned, as it ordered vaccines in February whereas the US had ordered last June.

'I don't want to get into a blame situation. I fear what is coming and as the prime minister of India he needs to make sure there is no third wave.' He also alleged that Modi is 'terrified' and is in shock. 'He is trying to find out how he repairs his image. His image is gone. it's dead. I would request him to stop worrying about his image and start worrying about the problem in front of him which is now killing people,' he suggested.

According to the Congress leader, the lockdown, masks and social distancing are temporary fixes while vaccination is the permanent solution to COVID-19.

He also noted that the third wave of the virus is going to be more brutal and he is not trying to scare people but save people's lives.

On External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's charge that the Congress was defaming India, Gandhi claimed he is being forced to say that by the prime minister. He said the opposition is like a warning system, but the government sees everything as a conspiracy against India.

Gandhi alleged that the central idea of the BJP and RSS is to suppress information and that is why they lie about correct death rate. 'Don't let journalists say the tuth. Pressure Twitter, pressure facebook, pressure the newspapers, but they are not realising that this is the information system, which they don't have,' he noted.

He alleged that the BJP-RSS have shut down the information system and there is no feedback to the prime minister and he does not understand where is the problem and disallowing the Parliamentary committees is in this context. PTI SKC ZMN