Lashing out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday wondered why the Centre in its new vaccination guidelines has not allowed the states to distribute 25 per cent of Covid vaccines to private hospitals.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday announced that the Centre will procure 75 per cent of all Covid vaccines and distribute it to the states for free while the rest 25 per cent of the jabs will be administered by private hospitals.
The Centre’s new vaccination guidelines will come into force from June 21.
Amid these developments, addressing a press meet at the state secretariat Nabanna on Wednesday, Banerjee accused the Centre of not adopting the spirit of federalism and said its Covid policies have pushed the country into a serious crisis.
"The Centre has said that it will directly provide 25 per cent of vaccines to private hospitals. Why by the Centre? The state implements the policy of the Centre in a federal set-up," she said.
Banerjee also said that she opposed the imposition of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on medicines, equipment and vaccines required for the treatment of Covid-19.
Taking a dig at the prime minister, she said, "He only knows how to speak against states. He only knows about divide and rule. Why is there no word by the PM about withdrawing 5 per cent GST on Covid vaccines?”
Banerjee further alleged that the prime minister did not think about spending Rs 34,000 crore from PM Cares Fund to fully vaccinate the people of the country in all these days.
Had the Centre taken up the free vaccination drive in this period, "we would not have to lose so many citizens in the age group of 18-45 years", she claimed.
"What happened to the promise by Modi before the Bihar elections about free vaccination to everyone? So many months elapsed afterwards," she said.
The Bihar Assembly election was held in three phases in October-November last year.
"The PM should not take credit for the free vaccine policy of the Centre now and should explain what happened in all these days," Banerjee said.
The CM said that two crore people were inoculated in West Bengal and the state government spent Rs 200 crore to procure vaccines.
(With PTI inputs)
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