Free vaccine only in Bihar ahead of poll, State Congress criticises BJP

Balasaheb Thorat - Nirmala Sitharaman

Mumbai : The Maharashtra Congress on Thursday lashed out at the BJP for politicising the issues, like the coronavirus vaccine, for winning elections in Bihar.

The BJP’s “free coronavirus vaccination for all” promise in Bihar ahead of next week’s election has now become hugely controversial with the ruling party fending off allegations of an “appalling” attempt to use the vaccine for its political agenda. “As soon as a COVID-19 vaccine is available for production at a mass scale, every person in Bihar will get free vaccination. This is the first promise mentioned in our poll manifesto,” Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday, announcing the BJP’s manifesto for the Bihar election.

Later, a similar announcement followed in Tamil Nadu, where elections are due next year. “Once a COVID19 vaccine is ready, it will be provided to all people of the state free of cost,” announced Chief Minister E Palaniswami of the state’s ruling AIADMK, a BJP ally.

Targetting the BJP, the state Congress chief and senior cabinet minister, Balasaheb Thorat asked, “While it is the responsibility of the central government to give free vaccines to all the states, since there are elections in Bihar will they be given free vaccines and as there are no elections in Maharashtra, will people of this state not get the vaccine? Does the central government plan taking money for a Covid19 vaccine from the poor?”

Thorat said the fact that the coronavirus vaccine is not yet available and today’s development shows that the BJP is making such announcement just to win the elections. It’s purely baseless promises and using such a sensitive issue for its political benefits are neither morally nor ethically correct, he said and asserted that every Indian has the right to get the coronavirus vaccine for free of cost and they must get it.

There is a global race to produce a coronavirus vaccine and trials are on in many countries, including India. But this is the first time that a vaccine, especially one that is work in progress, is an election promise.