KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee recently wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his help to procure Covid-19 vaccines so that everyone can be inoculated free of cost before the assembly elections, a ‘smart’ move that political analysts say is aimed at cornering the BJP ahead of assembly polls.
“The Centre’s decision to make vaccines available at some private hospitals gives a clear hint that it would not be able to give free vaccines to all. The CM wants to put pressure on the BJP government at the Centre on this issue ahead of the polls,’’ said an official at the state secretariat. According to TMC sources, the Centre’s inability to give Bengal adequate volume of vaccines would become the ruling party’s weapon to target the BJP.
“In a video conference just before vaccination started, the CM had made it clear to the PM that the state wanted to buy vaccines and give them for free to the common people. Initially, the BJP was trying to cash in on vaccination claiming the Centre has fast-tracked the process to keep people safe from the virus. Now the CM’s request is bound to put the Modi government in a quandary because their inability to provide vaccines in adequate numbers will be exploited by the TMC ahead of the elections, which can damage the BJP,” said a TMC leader.
Mamata in her letter said that the people will be forced to go to the polling stations without any vaccination coverage if free of cost immunisation is not done ahead of elections. So far, about 2 lakh health workers and doctors have been administered jabs in the state. Another 2 lakh frontline workers, including police personnel, are being given vaccines in the second phase.