NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday sought to point fingers at states that suggested decentralisation of the rollout, to deflect blame for framing the widely criticised Covid vaccination policy that came into effect on May 1.
“The Centre had been running the vaccination since January 16, and the people were following all the protocol to get the jabs. But some of the states began demanding decentralisation, while there were questions about the age groups and the priority categories. Varied kinds of pressure tactics were employed, including questions about initial vaccinations of senior citizens,” he said.
A similar line of argument earlier came from NITI Aayog member V K Paul, who had squarely blamed the states for messing up the campaign.
But CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury criticised the PM’s reasoning. “The Union government and the BJP must learn to accept responsibility for its failures when people of this country have paid with their lives. This incessant focus on spin and PR is an assault on and insult to the millions who perished in the pandemic,” he said. Yechury attributed the latest policy shift to pressure from the Supreme Court’s observations.
Opposition-ruled states broadly welcomed the PM’s decision. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin said “as the Prime Minister stressed multiple times that health is a state subject, it will be appropriate for each state to be given complete control over registration, validation and administration procedures.”
Chhattisgarh health minister T S Singh Deo had a pithy one-liner: “der aaye dusrust aaye” (better late than never). Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said he had written twice to the PM and the Union health minister for Central procurement and distribution of vaccines for all age groups. “This was the only feasible solution,” he said.