Adar Poonawalla must reveal names of those threatening him: Maharashtra Congress

SII CEO must return as soon as possible to supervise production and address the massive deficit, it says

Stating that the issue of alleged threats to Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla were extremely serious, Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole on Monday demanded that Mr. Poonawalla immediately reveal the names of those powerful political people who had purportedly made menacing calls to him.

Mr. Patole said Mr. Poonawalla, who is currently in the U.K., must return to India as soon as possible to supervise the production of vaccines and address the massive deficit facing the country.

“Mr. Poonawalla himself said in an interview to a U.K. newspaper that he had been threatened by a key political figure. If so, he should reveal who the political figure is…he must return to India from London as soon as possible in the interests of the country and produce vaccines in large quantities to redress the massive deficit.”

The Maharashtra government and the Congress party, too, would provide security to Mr. Poonawalla if needed, he said.

Less than a week ago, the Centre had accorded ‘Y’ category security detail to Mr. Poonawalla in view of “potential threats”.

“What is the Centre’s intention behind providing ‘Y’ category security when Mr. Poonawalla himself had not sought security from either the State or the Central government? Typically, if a person feels his life is being threatened, he submits an application requesting security cover and only after this, he is provided with security… But the Central government gave it without asking him. What is the politics behind this?” Mr. Patole said, wondering whether the security detail was meant to keep an eye on Mr. Poonawalla.

In The Times of London interview, the SII CEO spoke of receiving allegedly menacing calls from some of the most powerful men in India (who ostensibly included political figures and heads of business conglomerates) and that owing to a noxious environment at home, he was mulling over being out of the country for an extended period and make plans to produce vaccines elsewhere.

“‘Threats’ is an understatement. The level of expectation and aggression is really unprecedented… I’m staying here an extended time, because I don’t want to go back to that situation. Everything falls on my shoulders, but I can’t do it alone,” Mr. Poonawalla was reported to have told The Times.

While the interview caused a furore on social media, with detractors and supporters of the SII CEO rattling sabres over his remarks, Mr. Poonawalla, soon after wrote on Twitter that he would be returning to India “in a few days”.

Mr. Patole took aim at the Centre saying COVID-19 fatalities across the country and Maharashtra were on the rise owing to its wrong-headed policies.

“Why are vaccine prices different for Centre, State and private hospitals? There is no proper planning at the Central level. Furthermore, if remdesivir had been sold in the open market, there would not have been any selling on the black,” he said.


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