Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said India was fighting a war against Covid-19 and that this was not the time for the central government to make states fend for themselves. The chief minister’s remarks came as the national Capital and several other states struggle to inoculate their residents due to an acute shortage of vaccines.
“During a war such as this one [against Covid-19], we can’t say that state governments should take care of their needs,” he said during a virtual briefing. “If Pakistan attacks India tomorrow, would states be left to defend themselves? Uttar Pradesh should buy their tanks for the war? Delhi should procure its own weapons? This is not how governance works. India cannot lose this battle against Covid-19 and no government should lose this battle.”
Kejriwal said that if the central government lost the battle against the pandemic, it would not be a loss for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre, but a loss for India. “If the Delhi government loses the battle against the disease, it would not be a loss for the Aam Aadmi Party, it would be India’s defeat... This is the time for India to work as one unit.”
This was not the time for state governments to compete against each other, the Delhi chief minister said, adding that it was a time when all the 36 states and Union Territories of the country should come together and work as “Team India”.
Kejriwal said the second wave of the viral outbreak began in March and “that is when we should have procured vaccines from across the world and inoculated people”. However, the Centre put the onus of getting the vaccines to the states.
“I have been informed that not one state has been able to procure even one shot of a vaccine by themselves yet,” the Delhi chief minister said, adding that pharmaceutical companies had refused to coordinate with the states.
“India delayed vaccination by six months unlike other countries. The first vaccine was made by Indians in India. We should have been manufacturing and stocking up since then...if we had done that, we may have prevented some of the deaths in the second wave.”— Arvind Kejriwal
He added that the vaccination centres opened for beneficiaries between 18 and 44 years have been shut for four days in the Capital.
In a bulletin on vaccinations, AAP MLA Atishi said that Delhi had administered 43,824 vaccine shots. She attributed the slow pace at which the city’s residents were being vaccinated to the pause on inoculations for the 18 to 44 age group.
All 400 coronavirus vaccination centres for the 18 to 44 age group in Delhi have been shut down, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had announced on Monday. He added that the Centre was responsible for the acute shortage of vaccine doses.
Sisodia also said that the Delhi government had reached out to Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson for vaccines, after the Centre did not give them more shots and had asked them to procure it through a global tender.
Delhi on Wednesday reported 1,491 coronavirus cases, pushing the infection tally in the national Capital to 14,21,477. With 130 deaths, the toll climbs to 23,695. So far, 13,78,634 patients have recovered from the infection.