Amid verbal duel between Centre, states over vaccine supply, PM warns against politicisation of COVID-19
While some states have flagged a 'shortage' of vaccine doses, the Centre has maintained that sufficient quantity of the jabs have been allocated to all the states.
NEW DELHI: With leaders of the ruling BJP and opposition parties accusing each other of politicking over the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said those who want to do politics are already doing it, but he believes in serving the people of India at such a difficult time.
In his interaction with chief ministers to discuss the COVID-19 situation and the ongoing vaccination drive, Modi said he is confident that all CMs, taking all parties and people together, would change the situation in their respective states.
"As far as doing or not doing politics is concerned, I am seeing from day one and I have been putting up with all kinds of statements without joining the issue myself because I believe that serving the people of India is our responsibility," Modi said.
"God has entrusted us this responsibility to serve the people in this difficult situation, we have to fulfil this. Those who want to do politics are already doing it, I don't want to say anything to them," he said.
The Congress-led opposition has criticised the government over its handling of the COVID-19 and the vaccination drive, while the Centre has maintained that its timely steps have been instrumental in effectively dealing with the pandemic.
Also, while some states have flagged a "shortage" of vaccine doses, the Centre has maintained that sufficient quantity of the jabs have been allocated to all the states and that many of them have been unable to inoculate all eligible beneficiaries.
In his remarks, Modi called for 100 per cent vaccination of 45 years plus population in the high case load districts.
He also stressed on "Dawai Bhi, Kadai Bhi (medicines as well as strict preventive measures)", and urged people not to compromise on that.
However, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday told Modi that the state was not lagging behind in the fight against COVID- 19, and urged him to affirm that there should be no politics in this effort.
He was speaking during the video-conference meeting with Modi to review the coronavirus situation in the country.
His statement comes a day after Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan made a stinging attack on the Maharashtra government, saying that it had "singularly bogged down" the entire country's effort to fight the virus.
A statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said that Thackeray requested the prime minister to address the leaders of all political parties, asking them to refrain from indulging in politics on the issue.
He said Maharashtra has increased the number of daily tests and requested for additional vaccine doses.
He also sought PM's help in procuring oxygen and ventilators from other states.
Thackeray urged Modi to approve the proposal of Haffkine Institute to manufacture anti-coronavirus vaccine.
During the meeting, union health secretary expressed satisfaction that out of the total tests conducted, 71 per cent were RT-PCR tests and 28 per cent rapid antigen tests, and requested the numbers to be increased, the statement said.
Thackeray said the state had succeeded in keeping the virus in check, but the grampanchayat elections, marriage events resulted in the spread of the virus.
There was a sudden spike in Vidarbha and the spread was rapid.
There was a virus mutation when the situation was being normalised.
He added that the state government aims to complete vaccination of 1.77 crore population in the priority list, for which 40 lakh vaccine doses are required per week.
The state has so far received 1,06,23,500 doses, out of which 92 lakh to 95 lakh have been administered.
But the stocks have dried up and many vaccine centres have been shut.
He said that the Centre has assured supply of 17.43 lakh doses after April 15, but then there would be interruption in the vaccine drive.
He reiterated the demand for lowering the vaccination age limit to 25 years.
Thackeray also sought the supply of anti-viral drug remdesivir, oxygen and ventilators.
He said that in the last three days, over two lakh tests were conducted daily, out of which 1.25 lakh were RT- PCR.