Modi govt reduced battle against Covid to event management: Sonia Gandhi

'Spread of COVID has come down, but risk of future waves has not diminished. Modi govt must take it seriously, which it has so far failed to do,' Congress president Sonia Gandhi wrote in an article

Congress president Sonia Gandhi (File  photo)
Congress president Sonia Gandhi (File photo)
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NH Web Desk

Slamming the Narendra Modi government for its incompetence and negligence in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday said that the battle against Covid could not be reduced to “event management” as is this government’s wont.

She also underlined that if India could deliver Covid jabs to its 100 crore people, it is thanks to the efforts of millions of country’s healthcare workers, doctors, vaccine manufacturers and distributors and not to those sitting in the government.

In an article carried by leading Hindi daily Hindustan, Sonia Gandhi expressed her gratitude to the millions of frontline workers who selflessly discharged their duties amid a raging pandemic, and many of whom lost their lives in the line of duty.

She recalled how the callous approach of the government during the first and second waves of the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a large number of deaths and huge suffering for the masses. She said that all this cannot be forgotten as it will be a great injustice to the lakhs who suffered and to the country as well.

Sonia Gandhi warned the government of the dangers of possible future Covid waves and urged it to accelerate the vaccination drive as well as ensure its free availability to all age groups.

“It is beyond comprehension why the Modi government still considers the country's fight against Corona as an event management opportunity? The target of more than two crore vaccines was achieved on the birthday of the Prime Minister. The question is, if it can be done on a birthday, why can't it be done everyday? The answer is simple: it was done by hoarding the vaccines before the birthday celebrations. It is like hoodwinking people,” Sonia Gandhi wrote.

The Congress president pointed out that India’s vaccine production capacity was built over decades with “tireless efforts, research skills of scientists and continuously mobilised resources”.

“Over the years, India has been known as the 'Pharmacy of the World'. This breakthrough of science and Indian genius could not have been possible without the patent law of 1970, which laid the foundation of our pharmaceutical industry and made India one of the world's reputed manufacturers of medicines and vaccines,” she wrote.

“Can it be forgotten that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced to the chief ministers in April last year that 'we have defeated Corona without a vaccine?' What was the result of his thinking? Vaccine procurement was not given priority. The essential bottlenecks in ensuring a continuous supply of oxygen in case of spread of infection were not addressed in time,” she added.

She said that when the pandemic hit, the Prime Minister and the Home Minister “kind of disappeared”, but as soon as the situation improved, they resurfaced.

People trying to procure oxygen cylinders amid shortage during the 2nd Covid wave
People trying to procure oxygen cylinders amid shortage during the 2nd Covid wave

“This was exactly what happened during the first wave of the pandemic, when the sudden announcement of the lockdown left lakhs of migrant labourers destitute. They were forced to walk thousands of kilometres hungry and thirsty to their villages. If we forget the lakhs of people who lost their lives by suffering immense pain, it will be a great injustice to them and to the country as well," she wrote.

“How can we forget the heart-wrenching scenes of patients clamouring for oxygen, families begging, helpless people waiting for beds outside hospitals. We need to always remember the brutal scene of dead bodies floating in the water and thousands of dead bodies lying on the ghat. This is necessary so that again no government can dare to do such cruelty and negligence,” Sonia Gandhi added.

She said that due to the flawed vaccine procurement policy of the Modi government, cash-starved states became rivals with each other for the purchase and supply of vaccines.

“In the last nine months after launching the vaccination campaign, we have been able to vaccinate only less than a third of our population. Countries equally affected by Corona, and even countries less resourceful than us have a better record than ours. In the first three weeks of October, only five million vaccines were being administered daily in India. Whereas, in line with our goal to vaccinate all eligible adults by the end of this year, we need to vaccinate at triple the rate,” she wrote.

“There are other challenges in this fight as well, about which there is no clarity. The ratio between the first vaccine in India and the number of people fully vaccinated is one of the highest in the world. In addition, there are no plans to vaccinate children and minors between the ages of four and seventeen…" she added.

"All over the world, priority is being given to the vaccination of children and minors below 18 years of age. It is necessary to vaccinate this generation in ours too, so that they can go to school, college and university safely,” the Congress president wrote.

“The Prime Minister insists that the vaccine is available free of cost, but he deliberately does not state that the vaccines have always been available free of cost in India. It is the Modi government that changed India's Universal Free Vaccination Policy during the first and second corona wave and forced a large population of our country to get the vaccine in private hospitals by paying money, because the vaccine was not available at government centres," she wrote.

"The truth is that even 10 percent of the population of our country is unable to buy the vaccine, yet the government has been allocating 25 percent of the vaccine to the private sector. For this reason, instead of increasing, corona vaccination has been decreasing,” she underlined.

She said that luckily, the speed of infection and the spread of the virus has now come down, but the risk of future waves has not diminished. Unless India's population is adequately vaccinated or we acquire 'herd immunity', the danger is not over.

“Our economic condition will not improve until we control Covid. For this it is necessary that we make free vaccines available widely. This is the only way to protect our citizens, send our children and youth to schools, colleges and universities, revive our economy, celebrate festivals and welcome the new year with a new hope!” she pointed out.

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