"He's Health Minister, Not Party Spokesperson": Sena MP On Vaccine Row

Priyanka Chaturvedi was referring to Harsh Vardhan's allegation that Maharashtra's "lackadaisical attitude" had bogged down India's Covid efforts.

'He's Health Minister, Not Party Spokesperson': Sena MP On Vaccine Row

Priyanka Chaturvedi had earlier asked the Centre to open up Covid vaccinations for all above 18.

New Delhi:

The Centre's attempts to "score political brownie points" in response to her concerned letter over the Covid-19 situation in the country has left the Shiv Sena's Priyanka Chaturvedi "saddened" and "disgusted". In a video message referring to the Union Health Ministry's "disturbing" answer to her suggestions made in "good spirit and intent", she asked what was wrong with her recommendation to open up vaccinations for every adult Indian instead of sticking with the 45-year limit.

"It kind of saddened me, disturbed me, and also disgusted me at the same time, that a letter that was written in good spirit and intent...would hope to get a scientific response...because he is the health minister of the country and not the spokesperson of a political party," Ms Chaturvedi said in her message. "But what he responded with was not just political, but also seeking brownie points by attacking some states."

She was referring to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan's allegation made yesterday that the Maharashtra government's "lackadaisical attitude" had bogged down the entire country's efforts to fight the virus. In response to her letter, in which she had claimed that the state was facing an acute shortage of vaccines, he called such claims "deplorable attempts by some state governments to distract attention from their failures and spread panic among the people".

Ms Chaturvedi's letter, it was reported yesterday, had urged Mr Vardhan to open up Covid-19 vaccination to all those above 18, a suggestion made by several other sections of people.

"With the highest number of vaccine shot administered, we need the Union government to release more vaccines to Maharashtra..," she had written, calling it the "basic right of every Indian".
Mr Vardhan's responded saying prioritising was the only option so long as supply remained limited.

In her video message posted last night, she asked: "The need of the hour is to reach out to the maximum number of people. So was it wrong in asking that a young population…be safeguarded?"

India reported 1,26,789 new cases, along with 685 deaths, in the past 24 hours, the highest ever till now. Of these, almost 60,000 infections and 322 fatalities were accounted for by Maharashtra.

This peaking has come as part of a rapidly spreading second wave even as several states have run out of vaccines.

Many of them have sought the Centre's help in replenishing the stocks. Chhattisgarh Health Minister TS Singh Deo, for instance, also took exception to Mr Vardhan's adverse remarks on his state, along with Maharashtra and some others, over the Covid-19 situation.