Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday said the COVID-19 vaccination programme is a "sensitive process", and the government should not treat it as "cosmetic" event as it is a matter of lives of people.
Akhilesh Yadav had on Saturday termed the anti-Covid vaccine to be rolled out in the country as a "vaccine of the BJP" and said he would not take the shot, prompting a sharp reaction not only from the ruling party but also from NC vice-president Omar Abdullah.
The fresh remarks by the SP chief come on a day when India's drugs regulator approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive.
In a tweet in Hindi, Akhilesh Yadav said, "The anti-Covid vaccination is a sensitive process. Hence, the BJP Government should not consider this as a ''sajaawati-dikhaawati (decorative-cosmetic) event, and commence it only after concrete arrangements are made. This is a matter of the lives of people, so the risk of improvement at a later stage cannot be taken. A specific date for vaccinating the poor people should be declared."
While Akhilesh Yadav asked the government to tread with caution, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati on Sunday congratulated the scientists associated with the coronavirus vaccine and urged the Centre to make it available for the poor free of cost.
In a tweet in Hindi, she said, "The ''swadeshi'' anti-Covid vaccine is welcome and congratulations to the scientists. A request to the Central government is that along with all the health workers, if the extremely poor people get the vaccine free of cost, then it will be appropriate."
Akhilesh Yadav's remarks on Saturday had prompted an instant retort from BJP leader and Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya who termed his statement an "insult to the doctors and scientists of the country".