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Centre to provide free COVID vaccine to all Indians: Minister

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After being slammed by the Opposition for indulging in ‘vaccine politics’ to garner votes in the Bihar election, the Centre had clarified that all Indian citizens will get free COVID vaccine. The clarification came from the Union minister of state for animal husbandry, dairy, fisheries and MSME, Pratap Sarangi.

Pratap Sarangi, after addressing a poll campaign meeting for the Assembly bye-election in Balasore, told reporters that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that all people will be provided free of cost COVID vaccines. He added that around Rs 500 will be spent on the vaccination of each individual.

PM Modi, during his televised address to the nation on October 20, said that the government is gearing up to provide COVID vaccine to all Indians as soon as the vaccines become available.

Notably, Pratap Sarangi’s clarification on the COVID vaccine came in response to questions raised by Odisha’s food supplies and consumer welfare minister RP Swain. Swain had on Sunday questioned Union ministers from Odisha—Dharmendra Pradhan and Pratap Sarangi—on the silence of BJP on free COVID vaccine for the people of Odisha just like what the BJP had promised for Bihar.

Swain took to Twitter to raise the issue. He said: “I am asking questions to two Odisha union ministers from Balasore soil to clarify as to why the people of the state will not get free of cost COVID vaccine. The union ministers should clarify BJPs stand on the corona vaccination in Odisha.”

Free COVID vaccine for Bihar

The BJP on October 22 announced that it will provide free COVID-19 vaccine to all in Bihar, if the party comes to power in the state.  The BJP’s announcement was made in the poll manifesto released by Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

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Sitharaman had said that as soon as the COVID-19 vaccine will be available for production at a mass scale, every person in Bihar will get free vaccination.

The ‘vaccine politics’ resulted in severe criticism for the saffron party on social media.

Controversy over free vaccine announcement

The BJP’s poll announcement on October 22 immediately resulted in controversy, with Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Shashi Tharoor taking a dig at the Centre for a blatant attempt to use the vaccine for its own political agenda.

“GOI just announced India’s Covid access strategy. Kindly refer to the state-wise election schedule to know when will you get it, along with a hoard of false promises,” Rahul Gandhi had said.

Shashi Tharoor had tweeted: “Congress MP and former union minister Shashi Tharoor tweeted: “Tum mujhe vote do main tumhe vaccine (Give me votes, I will give you vaccine)… what appalling cynicism! Will the Election Commission rap her and her shameless government on the knuckles?”

Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had also launched an attack over the BJP’s poll promise. The Aam Aadmi Party had tweeted: “What about non-BJP ruled states? Indians who did not vote for BJP will not get free Covid vaccine?”

 

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