Congress interim-chief Sonia Gandhi chaired a virtual meeting on Saturday, 10 April, with chief ministers of Congress-ruled states, and party leader Rahul Gandhi, to assess the COVID-19 situation in India, including the shortage of vaccines.
As the Opposition party, Sonia reiterated that their role is to push the Modi government away from “PR tactics and to act in the interest of the people,” and said that the focus must be to “test, track and vaccinate.”
She said the governments must reveal the actual numbers of infections and deaths across the state, and the transparency must exist irrespective of it being a Congress-ruled state or otherwise.
“We must focus on India’s vaccination drive, first and foremost, then only export vaccines and gift them to other countries. We must stress on responsible behaviour – adhering to all laws and COVID regulations without exception,” said the Congress interim-chief.
She accused the Modi government of mismanaging the situation, by exporting the vaccine and allowing for “a shortage to be created in India”. Many states have reported a shortage of vaccines and asked the government for more doses, such as Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Bihar, Punjab, Odisha, UP, Andhra Pradesh and others.
Sonia highlighted that due to the ongoing Assembly elections, there have been mass gatherings for public rallies and religious occasions. “We need to accept the responsibility and keep the interest of the nation above our own,” said the 74-year-old leader.
She asked the Congress-ruled states to take strict measures to contain the pandemic, and ensure large-scale testing measures are carried out.
“We must make all efforts to support those who face the brunt of reduced economic activity as the restrictions become harder and more stringent,” said Gandhi.
Rahul-BJP Spar On Vaccines
This meeting comes a day after Rahul Gandhi wrote a letter criticising the Modi government and detailing the Opposition party’s concerns as India grapples with the COVID pandemic.
Gandhi noted it as “unfortunate, considering our scientific community and vaccine suppliers worked overtime to develop a solution but their efforts are undermined by the Centre’s poor implementation and ‘oversight’”.
“While our nation is facing vaccine starvation, more than 6 crore doses of vaccines have been exported. The state governments are repeatedly highlighting vaccine shortages only to receive intemperate statements by the Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare targeting Opposition-ruled states, undercutting cooperative federalism which you too have stressed as essential,” said Rahul, questioning why large-scale exports of the vaccine are being carried out.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had hit back at Rahul, asking why he himself had not taken the COVID vaccine yet in a series of tweets.
He said, "India is not facing vaccine starvation but Shri Gandhi is facing attention starvation. Why has Rahul Gandhi not yet taken vaccine?”
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