West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that the vaccine policy of the Centre is “highly discriminatory and anti-people”.
“I am afraid, this policy is highly discriminatory and anti-people. Moreover, it appears that there is a bias in favour of market against the interest of common people,” Ms. Banerjee said in the letter addressed to Mr. Modi.
Seeking an urgent intervention by the Central government in this regard, Ms. Banerjee said she strongly feels that “Indians should get free vaccine regardless of age, caste, creed, location at one price, irrespective of who pays — the Centre or the States”.
“Why should the process be different in cases of State government? GOI gets its vaccines from the manufacturers @ ₹150 per dose, while you have fixed for us, the States, a price of ₹400 per dose! States will need to pay 167% extra over and above the rates that GOI has fixed for itself. This is anti-federal and anti-poor and anti-youth,” the Chief Minister said.
She said never earlier has any State been asked to buy vaccines in any mass immunisation drive, let alone at such inflated rates. Ms. Banerjee also pointed out that fixing the rate for “private hospitals at ₹600 per dose is not only discriminatory but also unhealthy as it is likely to trigger unscrupulous mechanism in the market”.
“In a grave crisis situation like the one the country is facing now, there is no place for making business by vaccine manufacturers. Every effort in this situation should be directed towards common good of people without any difference or discrimination,” she added.
Earlier in the day, while addressing a public meeting Ms. Banerjee said the crisis due to COVID has been created because of faulty policies of Mr Modi. “You have sent the vaccines out of the country,” she said referring to the Prime Minister.
The Trinamool Congress chairperson once again reiterated that her government will ensure universal free vaccination from May 5. The State BJP leadership meanwhile said there will be a new government in the State after May 2, when the results will be announced, and the new government will take forward the vaccination drive in the State.