All citizens to get free COVID-19 vaccine, says Union minister Pratap Sarangi

The BJP's poll promise of free COVID-19 vaccine in Bihar had kicked up a controversy, with the Opposition parties criticising the NDA government for 'using the pandemic for political reasons'

Press Trust of India October 26, 2020 22:40:00 IST
All citizens to get free COVID-19 vaccine, says Union minister Pratap Sarangi

A health worker takes a nasal swab sample at a COVID-19 testing centre in Hyderabad. AP

Bhubaneswar: Union minister Pratap Sarangi on Sunday said that everyone will be given free COVID-19 vaccine.

The BJP announcement of free COVID vaccine for Bihar, where Assembly polls begin this week, had kicked up a controversy with the Opposition parties tearing into the NDA government alleging that the ruling party was using the pandemic for political reasons.

An estimated Rs 500-odd will be spent on the vaccination of each person, Sarangi told reporters after addressing a campaign meeting for the 3 November Assembly bypoll in Balasore.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in a televised adddress to the nation on 20 October said Indian scientists are in the process of developing several vaccines that are at different stages of clinical trials and the results seem encouraging.

Sarangi, the Union minister of State for Animal Husbandry, Dairy, Fisheries and Micro, small and medium enterprises spoke in reply to question raised by Odisha food supplies and consumer welfare minister, RP Swain.

Swain had earlier in the day sought clarification from Dharmendra Pradhan and Sarangi, the two Union ministers from Odisha questioning them for their silence on their party BJP's stand on free COVID-19 vaccination for the people of the state along the lines of the one being promised in Bihar.

The governments of Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Puduchchery have already announced free of cost COVID vaccines for the people of their states, while Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has demanded free vaccine for all citizens across the country.

Swain had tweeted: "I am asking questions to two Odisha Union ministers from Balasore soil to clarify as to why the people of the state will not get free of cost COVID vaccine. The union ministers should clarify BJPs stand on the corona vaccination in Odisha.

On the state governments steps for vaccination, Swain said it has signed an agreement with a vaccine manufacturer and is committed to extend the facility to all people of the state.

He, however, did not say whether the state government will provide the vaccine to the people free of cost.

BJP deputy leader in Odisha Assembly Bishnu Charan Sethi said the Centre has been supporting Odisha fully during the pandemic and has granted Rs 22,000 crore for the purpose.

"But large scale lapses have been detected in the utilisation of the fund," he alleged.

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