Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday hit out at the Centre for fighting for “blue ticks” on Twitter, while Indians struggle to get Covid-19 vaccine doses.
“The Modi government is fighting for blue ticks, be self reliant if you need Covid-19 vaccine,” Gandhi said in a tweet with the hashtag priorities.
The Congress leader was referring to Twitter briefly removing blue tick marks from the accounts of Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and at least five Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh functionaries, including the organisation’s head Mohan Bhagwat, on Saturday. The tick marks, displayed on a user’s profile, are viewed as an indicator of verified accounts.
Twitter said the blue tick from Naidu’s account was removed because of inactivity. However, unidentified government officials described it as an “outrageous act” against India’s second constitutional head, NDTV reported.
The controversy came at a time when tension has been brewing between Twitter and the Narendra Modi government due to an alleged Congress document or “toolkit” and new information technology rules.
The Opposition has heavily criticised the Centre about its misplaced priorities amid the Covid-19 crisis, such as going ahead with the multi-crore Central Vista project to build a new Parliament building and residences for the prime minister and the vice president.
It has also hit out at the government over its poorly-planned vaccination policy. Several states in India are struggling to vaccinate people due to an acute shortage of doses. Many of them have sought to procure vaccines through global tenders or by approaching manufacturers directly, but their efforts have yielded little success.
As the fourth phase of inoculation began on May 1, the Central government had 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.