The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar on Tuesday moved a step closer towards fulfilling a key election promise made by the ruling Janata Dal United and its ally BJP, as it approved a proposal for providing free anti-coronavirus vaccine to all the people of the state. The decision was taken at the first meeting of the cabinet since the allocation of ministries last month.
The cabinet has also cleared a proposal for generating 20 lakh private and government jobs -- which were promised by the National Democratic Alliance to counter Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav's government jobs promise.
The state government, however, has not clarified how the promised jobs will be created.
The government has also cleared several proposals linked to women empowerment. A fixed grant of Rs 50,000 will be given to unmarried graduate women; while those who have only completed school will get Rs 25,000. A scheme will be launched under which women will be given interest-free loans up to Rs 5 Lakh to become entrepreneurs.
The cabinet has approved the implementation of "Saat Nishchay Part-2", the second part of the seven resolves the Chief Minister announced before the Bihar assembly election to highlight his vision for the state.
The opposition had slammed the BJP for announcing free vaccine for only the poll-bound state.
"What about non-BJP ruled states? Indians who didn't vote BJP will not get free Covid vaccine?" - Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had questioned.
The BJP-led centre earlier this month said that there may not be a need to vaccinate the country's entire population.
"I just want to make this clear that the government has never spoken about vaccinating the entire country. It's important that we discuss such scientific issues based on factual information only and then analyse it," Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.
In response, the Congress claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised vaccine to all and the remark was a "U-Turn" by the central government.
The centre on Tuesday said it was examining the applications of Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute and Pfizer seeking emergency use authorisation for their vaccines.
With inputs from PTI