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Sonia Gandhi tells CMs of Congress-ruled states to ‘test, track, vaccinate’

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

Congress president Sonia Gandhi held a virtual meeting today with the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states to review their efforts to fight Covid-19, including the availability of vaccines and access to medicines and ventilators.

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Senior party leader Rahul Gandhi was also attending the meet.

During the virtual meeting, the Congress president told chief minister to focus on testing, tracking and vaccination.

She also said “There must be transparency – Governments must reveal the actual numbers of infections and deaths across states, whether Congress ruled or otherwise.”

Gandhi also said vaccines should be provided to Indians first and then the government should think about exporting it to other countries. “We must focus on India’s vaccination drive first and foremost, then only export vaccines and gift them to other countries. We must stress on responsible behaviour adhering to all laws and Covid regulations without exception.”

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Mrs Gandhi’s remark on export of vaccines comes a day after Rahul Gandhi appealed to the Prime Minister urging him to focus on domestic vaccine needs.

Slamming the Centre for its vaccine management, Mrs Gandhi claimed, “The Modi government has mismanaged the situation – exported vaccine and allowed a shortage to be created in India.”

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Speaking about the campaigning for ongoing Assembly elections, she said, “Mass gatherings for elections and religious events have accelerated Covid for which all of us are responsible to some extent. We need to accept this responsibility and keep the interest of the nation above our own.”

Several states including Maharashtra, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, UP, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar are facing vaccine shortages.

Sonia Gandhi reviewed the efforts taken in Congress-ruled states to fight COVID-19, including the availability of vaccines, access to medicines and ventilators, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said. “The priority is to test, track and vaccinate,” he wrote on Twitter, quoting Mrs Gandhi.

Mr Surjewala further said that Rahul Gandhi too “expressed deep concern over the second wave of COVID-19 hitting the country.”

He also said that Mr Gandhi “points out that virus attacks the poorest & disadvantaged the hardest.”

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Asserting that all parties are united in the fight against Covid-19, Gandhi said, “Cooperation with states respecting federalism and in turn, for us to be constructive and cooperate with the government in its efforts to fight the pandemic is equally important. We are all united in this fight.”

Pushing for strict action to be taken to control the graph, Gandhi said, “In our states, we need to take strict measures to ensure that the pandemic doesn’t go out of control and ensure testing at large scale, preparation of adequate facilities, setting up temporary ones. We must make all efforts to support those who face the brunt of reduced economic activity as the restrictions become harder and more stringent.”

Taking about the economic situation in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gandhi asked the state government to looks for the impact of government schemes so far and the next course of action which could be helpful. “Various packages had been announced by the Central government to help MSMEs and stimulate the economy. What impact have these packages had and what more should the Government be doing to deal with the continuing crisis? Do you see economic recovery happening in the manner that is being officially claimed?”

The meeting came a day after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to place an immediate moratorium on the export of vaccines, fast track approval of other vaccines and open up vaccination to everyone who needs it.

Criticising the Prime Minister, Mr Gandhi had asked whether the export of vaccines was an effort to garner “publicity”.

Referring to the PM’s appeal to the Chief Ministers to organise a vaccine festival from April 11 to 14, he tweeted that shortage of vaccines amid the rise in COVID-19 cases is a very serious issue.

“India had the first-mover advantage in vaccination and yet we are moving at a snail’s pace. Historically, India has achieved abundant experience in designing and executing some of the world”s biggest vaccination programmes. Yet in the present case, we have managed to fully vaccinate less than 1% of the population in 3 months…” the letter claimed.

“While our nation is facing vaccine starvation, more than 6 crore doses of vaccines have been exported… Was the export of vaccines also an ”oversight”, like many other decisions of this government, or an effort to garner publicity at the cost of our citizens?”

“Double central allocation for vaccine procurement from the existing ₹ 35,000 crore. Give State governments a greater say in vaccine procurement and distribution. Provide direct income support to the vulnerable sections in the disastrous second wave,” Rahul Gandhi claimed in his letter.

Rahul Gandhi further alleged that it is unfortunate that India is under a renewed attack of the COVID-19 virus, “considering our scientific community and vaccine suppliers worked overtime to develop a solution but their efforts are undermined by the Centre’s poor implementation and “oversight”.”

He noted that India has achieved abundant experience in designing and executing some of the world’s biggest vaccination programs. “Yet in the present case, we have managed to fully vaccinate less than 1 per cent of the population in 3 months,” he wrote.

He said that at India’s current vaccination rate, it would take years to inoculate 75 per cent of the population, and it will have catastrophic effects and will gravely decelerate India’s economy.

Rahul Gandhi added that the “Centralisation and individualised propaganda” are counter-productive.

“Even though Public Health is a state subject, our states have been bypassed right from vaccine procurement to registration. Additionally, a large section of the poor has been excluded due to the initial mandatory online registration,” he added.

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