Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made an “unsuccessful attempt” to blame the State governments while announcing centralised procurement of vaccines against COVID-19 and their free supply to States. “No State had suggested making payment from its budget for vaccinating the people of 18 to 44 years of age,” he said.
While affirming that Mr. Modi was forced to withdraw his “wrong decision” because of the strong public sentiments as well as the Congress’ campaign for free universal vaccination, Mr. Gehlot said the Prime Minister should tell the nation as to which States had asked for paid vaccination.
“I don’t know of any State government which raised such a demand. It seems the Prime Minister’s advisers have fed him wrong information,” Mr. Gehlot tweeted.
He said he had himself raised the issue at a video-conference meeting with Mr. Modi on April 23 and requested him to ensure free vaccination for all, including those of 18 to 44 years, by the Centre.
“Der Aaye Durust Aaaye (better late than never),” Mr. Gehlot said, and added that several State governments, including Rajasthan, had to approach the Supreme Court for seeking directions to the Centre to float global tenders for procuring vaccines and supply them to the States.
The Congress leadership and the entire Opposition had raised the voice against the Centre’s wrong vaccination policies, he said.
The vaccination exercise in Rajasthan was halted several times in the absence of sufficient number of doses. The global expression of interest issued by the State government for urgent procurement of vaccines last month did not yield the desired results, as the interested companies quoted much higher rates than the market prices.