‘The BJP is concerned about healthcare and we talk of health in our manifesto, that reflects our priority,’ says Union Law Minister
Union Law Minister and Lok Sabha member from Patna Sahib Ravi Shankar Prasad declared that the BJP was “proud” of having brought healthcare front and centre of its manifesto by promising free COVID-19 vaccine in Bihar once approved by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR).
Speaking to The Hindu, he said that the promise reflected the priority accorded by his party, the BJP, to healthcare. “The BJP is concerned about healthcare and we talk of health in our manifesto, that reflects our priority. Others talk of reviewing prohibition, that reflects their priority,” he said.
On being questioned on whether it was fair for a political party in power at the Centre to make an electoral promise of free vaccines during a global pandemic to only one State, Mr. Prasad said that all States were free to provide free vaccines.
“We have no problems if other States also give free vaccines, our promise relates to the fact that health is a State subject and if NDA is voted to power in the State, we will provide free vaccines. The Congress party has in the past promised farm loan waivers in almost every election they have fought with a patchy compliance on that promise, attracting far less opprobrium,” he said. Mr. Prasad has been campaigning in the Assembly polls and has expressed the confidence that the NDA will form the next government in the State.
The BJP had, in its manifesto promised free vaccines for COVID-19 if voted to power and 19 lakh jobs as well. The vaccine promise had set off a controversy with Opposition leaders questioning the morality of promising free vaccines to one State as an election promise while the whole country was suffering. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E. Palaniswami have also promised free vaccines once they were approved for disbursal.