'I was wrong': Chidambaram withdraws statement on Centre's vaccine policy
Congress leader and former Union Minister P Chidambaram today withdrew his comments criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the central government's shift in vaccination policy. PM Modi on Monday said the Centre was taking back control of the coronavirus vaccination program as states had lately changed their stand, which Chidambaram claimed was a lie. Here are more details on this.
'PM blames Opposition for mistakes he committed'
"The Prime Minister blames the Opposition for the mistakes he committed," Chidambaram told news agency ANI on Monday. "Nobody, but nobody said that Centre shouldn't procure vaccines. He (PM) now blames state governments saying - they wanted to procure vaccines so we allowed them. Let us know which CM, which state government, on what date demanded that he should be allowed to procure vaccines."
A letter from West Bengal CM went viral on Twitter
Soon after his remarks, a letter from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, dated February 24, 2021, began circulating on Twitter. "We would request you to kindly take up the matter with appropriate authority so that 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," she had written.
'I was wrong. I stand corrected,' Chidambaram tweeted
Thereafter, Chidambaram took back his statement in a tweet. "I told ANI 'please tell us which state government demanded that it should be allowed to directly procure vaccines.' Social media activists have posted the copy of the letter of CM, West Bengal to PM making such a request. I was wrong. I stand corrected," he wrote last night.
You can read the tweet here
Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi had also made similar requests
Not only Banerjee, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had also earlier requested the Indian government to decentralize the vaccination policy. However, he later asked the Centre to procure vaccines and provide them to states. Similarly, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi had reportedly written to PM Modi in April, suggesting him to "give state governments a greater say in vaccine procurement and distribution."
PM has announced centralization of COVID-19 vaccination
PM Modi on Monday announced that the Centre would procure 75% of all COVID-19 vaccines and provide them to states free of cost, while the remaining 25% would be arranged by private hospitals. He also said all people aged above 18 will be vaccinated for free. His government had been facing criticism for decentralizing the vaccination drive and allowing companies to practice differential pricing.