Bihar elections: BJP's free Covid-19 vaccine poll promise draws ire

“When scientists give clearance for large-scale production of the vaccine, we will make it available to the people of Bihar free of cost,
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday released the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) manifesto for the Bihar Assembly polls, which promised free Covid vaccine once it has been cleared by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).


It also sought to reach out to the youth with the promise of 1.9 million jobs in the next five years and farmers with the assurance of bringing lentils under the minimum support price regime.


“The National Democratic Alliance government in Bihar has set an example before the country in the fight against Covid. It’s our resolve that once the vaccine has been cleared by the ICMR, we will make it available to the people of Bihar free of cost,” stated the manifesto.


Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a swipe at the BJP for promising free Covid-19 vaccine in its Bihar poll manifesto, saying one has to refer to the state-wise election schedule to know when one will have access to vaccine. “Government of India just announced India’s Covid access strategy. Kindly refer to the state-wise election schedule to know when you will get it, along with a horde of false promises,” Gandhi tweeted.


Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi also took a dig at the saffron party, saying while the vaccine is yet to come, it has already become a part of poll rhetoric by the BJP.


“Bihar is a politically sensitive state. Here people cannot be fobbed off with empty promises. Claims made by parties are likely to be weighed against their past track record. This is where the BJP scores,” Sitharaman said.


“When we reach the stage where scientists give clearance for large-scale production of the vaccine, we will make it available to the people of Bihar free of cost,” she said. Taking potshots at the BJP, Congress spokesperson Ragini Nayak said, “Even Modi does not know when the vaccine will come... and, Sitharaman started distributing it for free.”


BJP IT Cell Head Amit Malviya took to Twitter to clarify that vaccination is a state subject. “BJP’s manifesto promises free Covid vaccine. Like all programmes, Centre will provide vaccines to states at a nominal rate. It is for the state governments to decide if they want to give it free or otherwise. Health being a state subject, Bihar BJP has decided to give it free. Simple,” he said.  Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Thursday assured free immunisation against coronavirus for all sections of people in the state as soon as a vaccine is available.

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