Hindustan Times (East UP)

Centre’s vaccine strategy ‘an abject failure’, can’t blame Nehru: Priyanka

- Letters@hindustant­imes.com

NEW DELHI: Slamming the government’s alleged lack of preparedne­ss to deal with the second wave of COVID-19, and terming its vaccine strategy an “abject failure”, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday said the BJP-led Centre cannot divert blame this time as Jawaharlal Nehru isn’t in charge, but Narendra Modi is.

The Congress general secretary also questioned the government over oxygen exports in the past year and alleged the central leadership has failed to deliver oxygen to its own despairing citizens.

In an exclusive interview with PTI, Priyanka Gandhi said constructi­ve suggestion­s from opposition parties are being dismissed as politicisa­tion rather than being accepted in the spirit that the nation is in crisis, every single life matters and, therefore, “all of us must stand together and do whatever we can to save lives regardless of our politics”.”They (government) are wasting time engaging in pettiness, making a minister respond to a letter addressed by a former prime minister who served this nation selflessly and with dignity to the present Prime Minister, Union Ministers are blaming state government­s for increased oxygen consumptio­n and central government press releases are targeting Opposition government­s,” she said.

Priyanka Gandhi’s remarks come two days after Health Minister Harsh Vardhan responded to former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s letter with suggestion­s on COVID-19 management, and alleged that the second wave of the pandemic was fuelled by Congress-ruled states as they were busy raising doubts about vaccines rather than vaccinatin­g people.

Talking about the Congress’ long-standing demand of universali­zation of COVID-19 vaccinatio­n and the government’s inoculatio­n strategy, Priyanka Gandhi slammed the government for exporting vaccine doses for a “PR exercise”.

Thanks to 70 years of forward-thinking governance, today India is the largest manufactur­er of vaccines in the world, she said. “The Union government enabled the export of six crore vaccines between January and March 2021. A huge PR exercise was conducted with photos of vaccines arriving in countries like Mauritius, Guyana and

Nepal being circulated. During this same period, Indian citizens received only three to four crore doses,” she said.

“Why didn’t the government prioritise Indians first. Why did the prime minister place selfpromot­ion above the nation? In a state like UP with a 22 crore population, only 1 crore doses have been administer­ed,” the Congress general secretary in-charge Uttar Pradesh said.Foreign agencies purchased vaccines from Indian vaccine manufactur­ers much before the Indian government placed an order and several large countries placed advance orders for vaccines twice the size of their population, she said, adding that India placed its first order only in January 2021.

The Modi government’s lack of foresight has compelled India to become an importer of vaccines today and even now, their “vaccine strategy is flawed and discrimina­tory”, Priyanka Gandhi said.

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Priyanka Gandhi

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