Procure vaccines from all available sources: Major oppn leaders write to PM

PM Narendra Modi
Twelve opposition leaders including Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray, Mamata Banerjee, MK Stalin, Hemant Soren and Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday wrote a joint letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi slamming the government over its handling of COVID-19 situation and demanding free, universal mass vaccination campaign across the country, stopping construction of Central Vista project and repeal of three new farm laws.

The letter said the COVID-19 pandemic in the country "has assumed unprecedented dimensions of a human catastrophe" and said the government should invoke compulsory licensing to expand domestic vaccine production and use all money in PM Cares Fund to buy more vaccines, oxygen and medical equipment required.

The leaders accused government of ignoring their suggestions and said it had compounded the situation to reach "such an apocalyptic human tragedy".

"We have repeatedly in the past drawn your attention, independently and jointly, to the various measures that are absolutely imperative for the central government to undertake and implement. Unfortunately, your government has either ignored or refused all these suggestions. This only compounded the situation to reach such an apocalyptic human tragedy," the letter said.

The letter by major opposition parties has been signed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Deve Gowda, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav, Communist Party of India general secretary D Raja and Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav.
"Without going into all the acts of commission and omission by the central government that have brought the country to such a tragic pass, we are of the firm opinion that the following measures must be undertaken on a war footing by your government," the letter said.

"Procure vaccines centrally from all available sources - global and domestic, immediately begin a free, universal mass vaccination campaign across the country. Invoke compulsory licensing to expand domestic vaccine production. Spend budgetary allocation of Rs 35,000 crores for the vaccines. Stop Central Vista construction and use the allocated money for procuring oxygen and vaccines, instead. Release all money held in the unaccounted private trust fund, PM Cares to buy more vaccines, oxygen and medical equipment required," the letter said.

The opposition leaders also demanded at least Rs. 6000 per month to all jobless people and free distribution of foodgrains to the needy. They said over one crore tonnes of foodgrains are "currently rotting in central godowns".

"Repeal farm laws to protect lakhs of our annadatas becoming victims of the pandemic so that they can continue to produce food to feed the Indian people," they said.

The leaders said they expected a response to their letter from the government.

"Though it has not been the practice of your office or government, we would appreciate a response to our suggestions in the interests of India and our people," they said.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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