There was no need to create fear on vaccine shortage, and the jabs will be available to all, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday evening told political parties as he held a meeting of floor leaders of both houses of the Parliament on the country’s Covid-19 response.
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan gave a presentation on the coronavirus situation in the country and its vaccination drive. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi, along with other leaders, attended the meeting. However, principal Opposition party Congress decided to boycott the meet, along with RJD, Aam Aadmi Party, and Left parties. Punjab-based Akali Dal also refused to attend, saying the party was only interested in attending meetings where farmer-based issues were on focus.
In the meeting, several Opposition parties, including Trinamool Congress and the Shiv Sena raised the issue of vaccination shortage in their states.
According to sources, the Prime Minister said there was no need to fear or to create fear on the issue of vaccines. Vaccines are available in adequate numbers, the PM said, adding that six more vaccines are at various stages of approval; there would be enough to vaccinate the majority of India’s population.
Modi, however, expressed concern over the rising number of cases in the country, especially where people were vaccinated with both their doses and still getting infected, sources said. He reiterated the urgent need for making sure to adhere to Covid-protocol and not letting guards down, they said.
The sources added that the PM also expressed dismay over the kind of politics that existed over the pandemic, and appealed to all the political parties to refrain from the same.
Modi urged the need to reach out to the masses, and make sure to remove any vaccination hesitancy, a sentiment that still exists, especially in rural and other remote areas.
The Biju Janta Dal, sources said, asked the PM to provide 95% vaccine for government hospitals, as the consumption of vaccines in private hospitals was slow. Other parties also requested the government to ensure that Covaxin received international approval as many citizens, including professionals and students, wanted to travel abroad but could not do so as the jab is not recognised by many countries.
MoS Arjunram Meghwal and V Muraleedharan, Lok Sabha Deputy Floor Leader Rajnath Singh, Leader of House in Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal, Deputy Rajya Sabha leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Junior Health Minister Bharathi Pawar also attended the meeting.
Sudip Bandopadhyay and Derek O’Brien from the TMC, Professor Ram Gopal Yadav from the Samajwadi Party, Dr. K Keshava Rao and Nama Nageswara Rao from TRS, Vijay Sai Reddy and Muthun Reddy from YSR Congress, Supriya Sule and Sharad Pawar from NCP, Prasanna Acharya and Pinaki Misra from BJD, Pashupati Paras from Lok Jan Shakti Party, Vinayak Raut from Shiv Sena, R Navaneethakrishnan from AIADMK, Satish Mishra and Ritesh Pandey from BSP, Lalan Singh from JDU GK Vasan from Tamil Manila Congress and Rajya Sabha MP from JDS HD Devegowda were also in attendance.
Oxygen Plant in Every District: PM
The Prime Minister spoke about the efforts being made to ensure the setting-up of one oxygen plant in every district across the country. He informed leaders about the rising speed of India’s vaccination program and how that while administering the first 10 crore doses took around 85 days, administering the last 10 crore doses had taken 24 days.
He told leaders that the daily closing figures show an average of more than 1.5 crore vaccines administered at the end of the day, throughout the country.
Modi also stressed the need to properly plan vaccination drives at the district level, based on the advanced availability indicated by the Central Government to ensure no inconvenience to the people.
The Prime Minister said it was a matter of concern that a significant number of healthcare workers and frontline workers were yet to get their vaccine even after six months of India commencing its vaccination drive, adding that states need to be more proactive towards it.