Covid: India at the mercy of global vaccine firms, says Priyanka
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday said the Narendra Modi government’s mismanagement had pushed India into a quagmire of vaccine shortage, forcing the country with the largest production capacity to be at the mercy of global firms.
Asking questions under the “Who is Responsible” series that she started on Facebook on Tuesday to explore the reasons for the havoc caused by the pandemic, Priyanka said: “Why is India, the biggest manufacturer of vaccines in the world, begging for help from other countries? Why is this shameless government presenting even this crisis as its achievement?”
The Congress general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, whose decision to target the central government has triggered speculation about the possibility of a bigger role for her in the party in case Rahul Gandhi sticks to his decision not to return as president, added: “On August 15 last year, Modi had said from the ramparts of the Red Fort that his government had drawn up an elaborate vaccination plan. Given India’s vast capacity for vaccine production and tremendous successes in vaccination drives, it was easy to trust that even the Modi government would execute this properly.”
Priyanka continued: “But the bitter truth is that the vaccine was turned into an object of personal publicity of the Prime Minister instead of a life-saving instrument for the people from the very beginning. The result is that India is standing in queue for vaccines along with other weaker countries, hoping for the mercy of international firms. How did this happen? Who is responsible?”
Pointing out that merely 3 per cent of the population had been fully vaccinated, she said: “There has been a fall of 83 per cent in the vaccination rate after the announcement of the ‘Tika Utsav’ by Modi. Who is responsible?
“Now all the responsibility of vaccination has been shifted to the states. Only Modi’s photograph is there on the vaccination certificate. The states are desperately alerting the Centre on shortages. We all know that the government’s vaccine policy has failed.”
The Congress leader explained: “Major nations booked orders more than their populations last year itself. The Modi government placed the first order in January 2021 and that too only for 1.6 crore vaccines even as our population is 130 crore. Then 6.5 crore doses were exported between January and March; many countries were gifted vaccines. The government opened vaccination for citizens aged between 18 and 44 on May 1 but ordered only 28 crore doses. This would cover only 14 crore people. When the vaccination plan was ready last year itself, as claimed by the Prime Minister, why was the order for only 1.6 crore vaccines placed in January 2021? Why were vaccines sent abroad at the cost of our own people?”
On Monday, Priyanka had assailed the government for its “callousness” and for being a “silent spectator” as the country was engulfed by the pandemic and pledged to apportion responsibility and accountability.
“The government of India didn’t have anything to offer except callousness,” she had said.