West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that her administration wanted to provide free vaccinations against Covid-19 to people in the state. The state is going to polls in April-May.

“We feel that it is equally important to reach out to them with a rapid vaccination programme immediately for interest of health and well-being of all concerned with the election process,” the letter to the prime minister read. “Under the circumstances, [the] Government of West Bengal has decided to procure adequate number of vaccines for the members of the public at large....the West Bengal Government wants to provide vaccination free of cost to all the people.”

In the letter, Banerjee said her administration had begun the vaccination drive “in right earnest”, adding that all frontline workers, including electoral authorities were being inoculated. “In face, West Bengal being an election-going state, we are required to reach out practically to every government and para-state employee on an urgent basis to make the election safe.”

The elections to 294-seat West Bengal Assembly will be a closely-watched affair. In the run-up to the polls, the BJP and the ruling Trinamool Congress party have engaged in political mudslinging.

Earlier in the day, at a Trinamool Congress rally, Banerjee criticised the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry against her nephew and Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee’s wife Ruchira Banerjee. Her comments came a day after the CBI questioned Ruchira Banerjee in connection with an alleged coal scam. The chief minister had visited their residence on Tuesday, ahead of the interrogation.

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