Andhra Pradesh Chief Minster YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Thursday urged chief ministers of all states to come together as “a single voice” and appeal to the Centre to assume responsibility for the Covid-19 vaccination drive, reported The New Indian Express.
“As the situation has now transformed into States versus Union, we as CMs shall speak in one voice and ensure that India overcomes this pandemic,’’ Reddy said, in a letter written to other chief ministers.
Reddy’s letter followed as the Andhra Pradesh government’s bid to get vaccines through global tenders has not been fruitful yet, reported The Indian Express. The chief minister said that a centralised and coordinated vaccination with the state government’s support would lead to effective results for the citizens.
The Reddy-led government had floated a global tender on May 13 to procure Covid-19 vaccines from manufacturers outside India. “The date of submission of bids was 3rd June until 5 pm, but to my dismay no one quoted...” Reddy wrote in the letter.
The Andhra Pradesh chief minister’s call for unity was, however, viewed as a change in stance.
On May 6, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had contacted him to speak his “mann ki baat (my thoughts)” instead of discussing important matters. The phrase was a reference to Modi’s monthly programme aired on the All India Radio, where he speaks about various matters.
A day later, Reddy had criticised his Jharkhand counterpart, saying that “indulging in such level of politics would only weaken our own nation”.
Several states, including Delhi, have urged the central government to help with vaccines amid an acute shortage across the country.
On Monday, Soren wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to give free coronavirus vaccines for beneficiaries of all age groups in the state. The chief minister castigated Centre’s decision to leave vaccine procurement to states, saying it was against the principles of cooperative federalism.
On the same day, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also wrote to 11 chief ministers, requesting them to unitedly ask the Centre to procure coronavirus vaccines and distribute them to states free of cost. He said the Modi government’s bid to place the entire onus of procuring vaccines on states defied the very basis of cooperative federalism. Soren was among those tagged in the post.
India’s vaccine strategy
As the fourth phase of inoculation began on May 1, the Central government announced a differential pricing for states, allowing them to buy vaccine doses on their own. Before that, the Centre was procuring and allocating vaccines to states.
In the latest roll out, however, the Centre took responsibility for sourcing only 50% of the doses for what has been categorised as the vulnerable population – those above 45 years, healthcare and frontline workers. This essentially means that vaccinations for all those below 45 years will have to be paid for by the states or by the citizens themselves. The Centre will not pay.
The new “liberalised and accelerated” strategy has been severely criticised. Vaccination rates have fallen steadily nearly every week since early April as many states complained of shortage of doses.