The Congress leader P Chidambaram today withdrew his remarks criticizing the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement on the centre earlier allowing the states to buy vaccines as they had only demanded it themselves, the opposition parties attributed to the government’s vaccine policy change to the Supreme Court’s sharp comments in the previous week.
Mr. Chidambaram was found quoting to a news agency ANI, “The underlying message was that the central government learned from its mistakes. They have made two cardinal mistakes and made no effort to correct those, but as usual bluff and bluster, the Prime Minister blames the opposition for the mistakes he has committed.”
He claimed, “Nobody, but nobody said that the Centre shouldn’t procure vaccines. The Prime Minister now blames the government saying-they wanted to procure vaccines so we allowed them. Let us know which CM, which state government and on what date demanded that he should be allowed to procure vaccines.”
A letter from the Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee emerged on the social media, which came after the remark made by the Union Minister that led him to another public take-back.
Mr. Chidambaram tweeted, “I told ANI ‘please tell us which state government demanded that it should be allowed to directly procure vaccines’. Some social media activists have posted the copy of the letter of West Bengal’s CM to PM, making such a request. I was wrong. I stand corrected.”
In the national address made by PM Modi on Monday, he announced that the centre would provide vaccines free of charge to all above 18 from June 21 and would take back control of vaccination from states, reversing the policy that took place on May 1. The vaccine drive was decentralised because states had complained to the PM. He said, “Many states demanded vaccinations to be decentralised.”
The letter that caused Mr. Chidambaram to retract his statement, in that letter of February 24 Mamata Banerjee had said Bengal should be allowed to source vaccine on its own.
The Bengal Chief Minister had said, “We would request you to kindly take up this matter with appropriate authority so that the State government is able to purchase the vaccines from designated point(s) on top priority basis because the West Bengal government wants to provide vaccination free of cost to all the people.”
Although, yesterday, Banerjee made no reference to this in her tweets while responding to the Prime Minister’s address.
Bengal’s CM tweet said, “Back in February and multiple time thereafter, I’d written to the PM stating our long standing demand to provide vaccines to ALL FOR FREE.”