Outcry in India as Modi's ruling party offers 'free vaccines' in election manifesto
The BJP party is being accused of politicising a pandemic in a country that has one of the world’s worst outbreaks
by making the vaccine pledge.India is involved in the production of several vaccine candidates, but has yet to announce the mechanism through which any successful protection against Covid-19 would be distributed to its 1.3 billion people. Health is usually a devolved matter in India’s federal system, though Delhi has taken the lead in national action to contain the coronavirus.
The issue of coronavirus has played a big role in the Bihar campaign, with the country having had more than 7.7 million Covid-19 cases, the second highest in the world behind the US, and 117,000 deaths. And Bihar was particularly severely impacted by the mass exodus of migrant workers out of big cities at the start of India’s lockdown in March.
Speaking at the manifesto launch event, Ms Sitharaman said: “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."
Opposition leaders, journalists and activists immediately questioned such a pledge, accusing the government of misusing a time of national medical need for electoral gains with a selective approach.The ruling party of the capital city Delhi, AAP, tweeted: “What about non-BJP ruled states? Indians who didn't vote BJP will not get free Covid vaccine?”
Rahul Gandhi, a prominent leader of the Congress opposition party, suggested that under the Modi administration Indians will probably have to wait for elections in their own states to get access to any vaccine.The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah asked whether the BJP will be paying for the vaccines from its own party treasury.
And calling it “vaccine electionism”, Chattisgarh state’s chief minister Bhupesh Baghel said that the BJP is implying that the citizens of other non-election states will have to pay for their vaccines when the time comes.Amid the flurry of criticism, the national head of the BJP’s information and social media wing tweeted that the party can make the promise of the free vaccine because health is a state subject in India, and the central government will be providing a vaccine to all states at “nominal” rates. He suggested it was up to each state’s government whether they then waived that fee for citizens, or passed it on.
No statement to this effect has so far been released by the upper echelons of the central government, however.Activist Saket Gokhale said he would be raising the issue with the election commission, stating that this is a “discriminatory and false” promise.
Bihar’s vote begins on Wednesday 28 October, and will conclude on 7 November. Read more: The Independent »
Covid: Boris Johnson to set out post-lockdown plan for England - BBC News
Boris Johnson is due to explain a return to the three-tier system after lockdown ends on 2 December.
Disabled girl, 12, raped and beheaded in ‘black magic ritual’ in IndiaA DISABLED 12-year-old girl was raped and beheaded in what cops believe was a “black magic ritual”. Police in Gujarat, India, have arrested her cousin Nitin Mali, 25, for raping and killing the gir… insane The night of the murder, was also a new moon or ‘Amavasya’ which is said to be the optimum night to perform such rituals. The dogs led the police to the temple. “It was a moonless night and this district is still affected by such superstitions. We won't visit India. Never. 😳🤬😔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔
India returns captured Chinese soldier who ‘strayed’ across borderChina issued a statement earlier asking India to ‘honour its pledge’ and hand back the captured corporal
Girl, 13, killed by troop of monkeys who chased her off roof in IndiaA LITTLE girl has died after being chased off a roof of her own house by a gang of violent monkeys in India. The 13-year-old, who was collecting her drying clothes from the rooftop, plunged to her …
China India standoff: Beijing urges New Delhi to quickly hand over ‘lost’ Chinese soldierCHINA has urged India to quickly hand over a Chinese soldier who crossed into Indian-controlled territory around the disputed Line of Actual Control.
Girl, 13, is killed after monkeys chase her off a roof in IndiaThe teenager was chased off the roof by a tribe of monkeys in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, earlier today as she went to collect laundry that had been left out to dry, police have said.
India Covid-19: From losing loved ones to volunteering for a vaccineAnil Hebbar, who lost 10 friends to coronavirus, is taking part in Oxford University's vaccine trials. Islamophobia countries must support each other. boycottfrenchproduct