Yashwant Sinha criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi over India's vaccine policy
Former Union minister and senior Trinamool leader Yashwant Sinha tweeted a video clip of a speech by the Indian representative at a discussion in the United Nations to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi over what has come to be known as the government's "vaccine diplomacy". It was one of several defiant tweets from opposition leaders after the arrest of 17 people by the Delhi Police, which reports to the Union Home Ministry, for criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the ongoing vaccine shortage. The list includes Rahul Gandhi of the Congress and Mohua Moitra of the Trinamool Congress.
"A 10 sec video that EXPOSES MODI. India's representative at the @UN informed the United Nations that India sent more vaccines abroad than has vaccinated its own people. Modi is now truly a world leader. Indians can go to hell," read Mr Sinha's post accompanying the video clip.
The clip was taken from a tweet on the UNGA informal meeting held in March from the handle "India at UN, NY". India was attending the meet as one of the initiators of the Political Declaration on Equitable Global Access to COVID-19 vaccines.
In the clip, Indian representative Nagaraj Naidu -- India's Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN -- is seen speaking about the country's contribution in the area. After the scientific community came up with the vaccines, "we are now confronted with ensuring the availability, accessibility, affordability and distribution of the Covid 19 vaccines," he said.
Underscoring the need for equality in accessibility of the vaccine, he said if this was not done, it would hit poorer nations hard.
"India will not only be vaccinating 300 million of its own frontline workers over the next six months, but in the process, has also supplied vaccines to over 70 nations. In fact, as of today, we have supplied more vaccines globally than have supplied our own people," he said.
Mr Sinha's criticism comes amid the arrest of 17 persons in Delhi over posters that mushroomed in the city criticising the Centre's vaccine policy. The posters were put up allegedly by a leader of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party.
Delhi had stopped vaccination of 18-44-year-olds four days ago, pointing to limited stocks. Similar steps to ration vaccines have been taken by several other states.
With the vaccine shortage on for days amid a vicious second wave of the disease, the government's move to give vaccine to other nations, has drawn much anger and criticism.
Even the Delhi High Court had slammed the government's dialer tune message asking people to get vaccinated. On Thursday, the court said asked why the "irritating" message asking people to get the jab was being played when there was not enough vaccine.
As the second wave progressed, the government had stopped the export of vaccines, which was on till then as part of its global commitments. On Sunday, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar said India will have enough COVID-19 vaccine doses from July-August.
The country has so far administered over 18 crore jabs to eligible beneficiaries. On Saturday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the number of vaccine doses administered will reach 51.6 crore by the end of July.
"We will have 51.6 crore vaccine doses by the end of July including the 18 crore doses already administered. Sputnik has been approved. This along with the slated approval of the new vaccine of Zydus Cadila, Serum Institute of India- Novavax vaccine, Bharat Biotech's nasal vaccine and the Genova mRNA vaccine will push the availability of COVID vaccines to 216 crore doses in the August-December period," he said during an interaction with the health ministers of several states, reported news agency Press Trust of India.