- Shiv Sena leader Vinayak Raut demands close coordination among states amid Omicron threat.
- Raut also raised the issue of private hospitals overcharging COVID-19 patients.
- BJP's Ratan Lal Kataria said it has become a habit of some political leaders to to only criticise PM
The Opposition on Thursday hit out at the Modi government over the COVID-19 management, accusing it of favouring BJP-ruled states in the allocation of vaccines and dubbed the celebrations over the 100-crore vaccination mark as premature.
Initiating the debate in the Lok Sabha on the COVID-19 pandemic, Shiv Sena leader Vinayak Raut lamented that Parliament was discussing the issue 21 months after the outbreak of the disease and at a time when cases were on the decline.
Referring to the Omicron variant of the virus, Raut demanded close coordination among state governments and the Centre.
“There should be clarity in the Centre’s directives on Omicron,” the Lok Sabha member from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg in Maharashtra said.
On COVID-19 vaccination, Raut accused the Centre of allocating vaccine doses to BJP-ruled states in excess and at the cost of non-BJP ruled states.
“The prime minister’s responsibility is for the entire 130 crore population. It should not be so that you look at Maharashtra with a sly glance, help Gujarat in good measure and make maximum allocations to Uttar Pradesh because it is going to polls. Allocations should be made on the basis of the population,” the Sena leader said.
He also described as “premature” the celebrations in India over crossing the 100 crore milestone in COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Till date, only 38 percent of the population has received both doses of vaccines. Should we be satisfied with this? We cannot launch premature celebrations for 100 crore doses,” Raut said.
On utilisation of the PM-CARES fund, Raut refrained from making a direct attack on the Centre and instead targeted contractors tasked with supplying ventilators to hospitals and establishing PSA oxygen plants.
“The Centre or the prime minister is not to be blamed. It is the suppliers who provided sub-standard ventilators which could not be used for the welfare of the people,” Raut said.
He said the prime minister had made an announcement of setting up more than 1500 PSA oxygen plants at hospitals across the country, but in reality, only 316 plants were functional.
“But for the rest, only foundation stones were laid and the plants were not operational. Contractors have betrayed the Centre and strict action should be taken against such people,” Raut said.
The Sena leader also raised the issue of private hospitals overcharging COVID-19 patients, particularly during the second wave of the pandemic. Participating in the debate, BJP's Ratan Lal Kataria said that as a new variant of the Covid virus has emerged, there is a need to be more cautious and follow all protocols properly.
"It is not the time to sit comfortably, we have to be vigilant," he said. According to medical specialists, so far there are no cases of this new variant in the country, Kataria said. He said the opposition has a role in democracy and they should play that role, but when it comes to serving humanity, do not politicise it. They should encourage people engaged in the fight against the pandemic, he said.
Enlisting various relief activities undertaken by the BJP during the pandemic, he said party workers distributed 22 crore food packets and ration to 5.36 crore people besides face masks to seven crore people. Attacking opposition parties, he said it has become a habit of some political leaders to to only criticise Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
However, the more they criticise, the more is his (Prime Minister's) resolve to work for the country, he added. On the charge that the Centre was only favouring BJP rules states in the supply of vaccines and ignoring those ruled by the opposition, he said several opposition ruled state governments approached other nations for vaccines. However, they were told that those countries would only deal with the central government, he added.