Hours after the Bharatiya Janata Party announced to make coronavirus vaccines free for all in West Bengal if it came to power in the state, the Trinamool Congress called the promise a “jumla”, or rhetoric.

“Similar promise was made by them to fool people in Bihar before elections, which they have conveniently forgotten,” the Trinamool Congress said in a tweet, responding to the saffron party’s announcement.

However, the Trinamool Congress’ reference to Bihar was factually incorrect, as the Nitish Kumar government has already announced free vaccination for everyone in the state. The Bihar government had first made the announcement in March and Kumar himself confirmed the decision as recently as Thursday.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee herself, on Thursday, announced universal free vaccination people of the state after May 5. The results for the poll-bound state will be declared on May 2 after two more rounds of election on April 26 and 29.

Meanwhile, the Congress too criticised the BJP for promising free vaccines as part of election campaigning. “Only the BJP could be so cruel as to dangle vaccines for votes,” it tweeted, demanding that the Centre should ensure free vaccines for everyone above the age of 18.

The BJP had faced strong criticism after making a similar promise in its manifesto for the state elections in Bihar last year as well. On October 22 last year, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the free vaccination scheme. Opposition parties had taken exception for politicising the health crisis.

Earlier this week, the Centre announced that all Indians above the age of 18 will be eligible for the vaccine from May 1, marking the third phase of inoculation in the country. Over 13.54 crore shots of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered so far, while more than two crore beneficiaries have received both the shots, according to government data.

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