A day after Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan accused the Maharashtra government of trying to cover up its failures by making misleading statements about the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, Congress on Thursday was chaired by Mr. Vardhan with the head of the Congress Committee of Maharashtra Pradesh Nana Patole he apologizes to the State.
Since the second wave hit Maharashtra, the State government has repeatedly asked the Center for more vaccines and financial assistance. We condemn the way in which the Union Minister of Health yesterday accused Maharashtra. He has insulted the state, Mr Patole said, adding that the management of COVID-19 was also the responsibility of the Central government.
The head of the State Congress accused BJP of playing politics at every level in a time of severe crisis.
National congressional panel spokeswoman Anant Gadgil said the fact that the Center had not yet stockpiled the urgently needed vaccine depots in Maharashtra was evidence of a deliberate design on the part of Narendra Modi governments to malign the image of States.
Ideally, the Center should have given more doses of Maharashtra vaccines in order to increase the alarming case here. Moreover, it should have allowed the State government to fully vaccinate the most affected districts of the State as nine of the 10 most affected districts in the country are from Maharashtra, he said.
Mr Gadgil said that according to news reports, the combined vaccine production capacity of Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute of India was only 2.5 crore per year.
At this rate, it will take years for every Indian to be vaccinated. If it is not delivering vaccines to the State at the required pace, it should at least allow foreign pharmaceutical companies to enter the Indian market, he said.
Accusing BJP of trying to destabilize the MVA alliance in Maharashtra, Mr Gadgil wondered why COVID-19 cases were not reported by polling-related States.
I have never seen and heard Prime Minister Modi or Interior Minister Amit Shah urging people to strictly adhere to social distance in any of their election rallies in countries like West Bengal. But the Center easily throws aspirations at Maharashtra governments, allegedly failing to get its citizens to adhere to pandemic norms. In reality, we are among the few States that publish data in a transparent manner and impose harsh restrictions, said Mr. Gadgil.
Rejecting congressional claims, Opposition BJP leader and former Prime Minister Devendra Fadnavis said only three states, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan, had received more than one vaccine.
Gujarat and Rajasthan have the same population while there is a Congress government in Rajasthan. Vaccine supply is not based on population, but on the vaccination performance of each country. Maharashtra has received 1.06 crore vaccines, of which 91 lakhs have been used while 15 lakhs are still left. So what is the reason for the MVA government to deliberately close vaccine centers on Thursday and spread false news about the unavailability of vaccine stocks? Mr. Fadnavis claimed.
He further said that deliveries of vaccines to the States were already in process. Maharashtra would receive an additional vaccine dose of 19 lash between April 9 and 12, he said.
Uttar Pradesh being the largest state had received doses of 92 lakh of which the government has used 83 doses of lakh. Haryana did not take many doses in the first installment and is only receiving vaccine doses now, the BJP leader claimed.
Mr Fadnavis said he had spoken personally to the Union Health Minister who had assured him that there would be no discrimination against Maharashtra.
From the first day in this fight against the pandemic, the Center has fought together with all the States and has given maximum assistance to Maharashtra. Even today, the central government stands side by side with the state. “Unfortunately, it is the MVA that has completely failed to meet its core responsibilities in fighting the pandemic,” Mr Fadnavis said.
He said it was the state administration that was completely to blame for the miserable condition where patients had to deal with lack of ventilator beds, oxygen supply and other lack of health infrastructure.
Vaccines are coming and will come constantly. However, not being able to provide even basic services will only make this crisis worse. Will the Prime Minister and the Minister of State Health pay attention to this? Mr. Fadnavis asked.
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