BHUBANESWAR: As the Odisha government kick started the massive COVID-19 vaccination drive on Monday, the ruling BJD and the opposition BJP crossed swords over picture of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik alone being displayed in the hoardings and posters at the inoculation sites.
The BJP workers strongly protested lone picture of Patnaik at vaccination centres in Balasore, Koraput and Angul districts.
The saffron party workers also brought down some such bill boards, sparking tension.
Union Minister Pratap Sarangi, who represents Balasore in Lok Sabha, said "There is no point in displaying the CMs picture alone at the vaccination sites."
"Our workers wanted the picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi should also be properly displayed there. I will draw attention of the Centre in this regard".
BJD vice-president and MLA Debiprasad Mishra, however, justified the display of Patnaiks pictures at the vaccination sites, saying "though the centre is funding vaccines the state has the key role in inspiring people to get inoculated."
He alleged that the COVID vaccination progarmme is being politicised despite the fact that public money is being utilised for the inoculation drive.
"The COVID vaccine should not be dubbed as Modi vaccine, Stalin vaccine, Nitish vaccine or Naveen vaccine", Mishra said.
M K Stalin is the new chief minister of Tamil Nadu while Nitish Kumar is heading the NDA government in Bihar.
BJP which replaced Congress as the main opposition in Odisha after 2019 state election has been confronting the ruling Biju Janata Dal politically on several issues.
Mishra wondered why some people are intolerant towards the hoardings or photos of Patnaik being placed at the vaccination centres.
"Above all, Naveen is a popular leader whose appeal reaches people. Some people want to create a controversy out of nothing to get political mileage," he said.
BJD's MLA from Balasore Swarup Das said, "we have no problem in PM's picture in the vaccination certificate. why the BJP leaders are objecting to Naveen Patnaik's photo at vaccination centres?" In Angul, some BJP workers also tore down the chief minister's posters at the vaccination centres.
Earlier, the Prime Minister had announced free of cost COVID vaccine to all Indian citizens above 18 years of age from June 21.
The Odisha government earlier in the day ramped up vaccination drive setting a goal to inoculate at least 3 lakh people every day.
The state has achieved a landmark in its fight against coronavirus by administering over 1 crore vaccine doses so far, according to official data.
The coastal state on Monday inoculated 3,32, 717 beneficiaries, it said.
Beginning its vaccination drive on January 16 along with other states, Odisha has thus far administered as many as 1,00,25, 629 doses to people under different categories like health care workers, frontline workers, and those above the age of 18.
Around 82 lakh people have received their first dose while more than 18.21 lakh beneficiaries got the second dose, it said.
As many as 20,64,833 people in the age group of 18-44 years, 33,51,787 people in the age group of 45 to 60 years, and 27,65,556 senior citizens have been administered the vaccine so far, it said.
Khurda district of which the state capital Bhubaneswar is a part has administered the highest 13,96,574 vaccine doses followed by Ganjam (9,39,285), Cuttack (7,49,665), and Balasore (5,58,096).
The vaccination drive is being conducted at 1,594 centres across the state1,558 government facilities and 36 private hospitals.
The state government earlier in the day ramped up vaccination drive in a campaign mode after setting a goal to inoculate at least 3 lakh people every day.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik commended the healthcare workers for their commitment to ensuring a swift inoculation process to save lives.
"Achieving a significant milestone in #COVID19 vaccination, #Odisha has administered 1 crore vaccine doses including vaccination of our frontline warriors," Patnaik tweeted.
The Health Department claimed that Odisha has recorded minus 3 per cent COVID-19 vaccine wastage which is "one of the best" in the country.
It was achieved primarily due to efficient and effective management of the vaccination exercise, the department said.
"Due to the negative wastage, we have been able to save 2.9 lakh doses of vaccine till date," the H&FW department tweeted.
A record number of 69 lakh vaccine doses were administered across the country till Monday evening on the first day of the implementation of the Centres 'revised Guidelines for Covid vaccination'.