Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has alleged that the Central government did everything possible to "forcefully" prevent import of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, especially when people were ready to get the best vaccine.
Mr Rao claimed that he and several other Chief Ministers had lobbied for Pfizer in India, but the PM Modi Government stalled the entry of the US pharmaceutical giant into India
The Chief Minister's remark at his recent rally in Maharashtra's Nanded came days after Union Minister of State for Electronics and Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar claimed that Pfizer had "tried to bully the Indian government into accepting an indemnity clause for supplying its mRNA COVID vaccine".
MoS Chandrasekhar, shared a tweet of Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla during the World Economic Forum in Davos in which the pharma company official stated that senior leaders in the Opposition had put pressure on the Centre to procure foreign-made vaccines during the pandemic rather than choosing Made in India vaccines.
Addressing a press conference in Maharashtra's Nanded on Sunday, KCR said that "Make in India" has become a "Joke in India."
"Today many multinational companies are leaving China, but why are we not able to attract them? Why are those companies not turning towards us? If Make in India would have been right, ease of doing would have been right, if they were feasible, then why were not allowed to come to India?
"There is a company namely Pfizer, which manufactures vaccines, it was stopped from entering India during COVID-19. No matter how hard the company tried but they (the Centre) did not allow them to come here. What was the reason?" questioned the Telangana chief minister.
"While the public wanted to get the best vaccine, people also wanted to buy it, yet the company was stopped forcefully. We also tried, many Chief Ministers also had talks with PMO and Niti Aayog but they (Govt) did not allow them (Pfizer) to come," KCR said.
KCR claimed that several multinational companies which were leaving China, like Pfizer, were being prevented from entering India and the Central government was promoting slogans of 'Make in India' to encourage crony capitalism and mislead people.
"Where is the environment in India? Do we have an environment of Make in India like the slogans they are giving? Do we have ease of doing business? Are we provided with the facilities? If there is, then why are we are not able to get international companies?" he asked.
Taking a dig at the Centre, KCR further alleged, "They will work for those who are their friends. Will inflate their stock market, why will they let others to come?"
But the Central government had said that they will not buy the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna because indigenous vaccines will be more affordable and easier to store.
India was in discussions with US companies Pfizer and Moderna in 2021 for the supply of these international vaccines but their terms and conditions were not accepted ultimately by India. The Centre declined to meet the requests by the US pharma firms for legal protection over any side effects from the use of their vaccines, which are widely used in the United States and Europe.
However, India successfully vaccinated its citizens, with "Made in India" vaccines under its nationwide vaccination drive, under which over 220.16 crore doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the two years since its launch.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya recently tweeted that India's feat was the "world's largest and most successful vaccination drive." He saluted the efforts of doctors and other healthcare workers on the front line who made this achievement possible.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)