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Opinion

HTLS 2020: Center should clarify position on vaccine pricing, says Bhupesh Baghel

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Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel asked the Center on Thursday whether it will provide Covid-19 vaccines at no cost, demanding clarity on the funding strategy for immunization at a time when the race for vaccines has entered the final lap. and the focus is shifting to regulatory approval and distribution logistics.

Speaking at the 18th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Baghel also criticized Congressional leaders such as Kapil Sibal and Ghulam Nabi Azad for publicly attacking the party, and suggested that the complaints should be raised in the party’s internal forum.

Baghel, a five-time congressional lawmaker who came to power in December 2018 with a two-thirds majority, referred to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) manifesto promise in Bihar of free vaccines and asked if the poll’s promise hinted at that the burden of financing immunization would be on the states.

Read also |No slowdown in Chhattisgarh during pandemic: CM Bhupesh Baghel at HTLS 2020

“The Center should clarify whether it will make the vaccine free. How much will the states pay? How much will the Center pay? How much subsidy will the Center give? ” I ask.

He noted that his state was doing its part to keep the economy running and following central guidelines on the distribution and vaccination strategy, but added that central ministers should be asked whether the Union government plans to subsidize the vaccine.

“Does Bihar’s electoral promise mean that the Center will not spend money and will only issue guidelines? We will do our best, but the Center should clarify whether it will provide states with the vaccine for free. If we have to spend money, why should we follow the core guidelines and not make our own guidelines? “

Baghel’s comments came at a time when four vaccine candidates from Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Russian government published encouraging results from late-stage clinical trials.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca candidate, called AZD1222, which has an efficiency of up to 90% according to data released this week by the company, and the Russian Sputnik V with an efficiency of 95%, are considered India’s best hopes. The Oxford vaccine is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) based in Pune.

Baghel was one of eight senior ministers who met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday to discuss plans to halt the spread of the virus and inoculation strategies. After the meeting, Modi said the Center was working with states and assured them that a detailed plan for vaccine distribution will be shared soon.

But Baghel, 59, seemed unhappy with Covid’s response, blaming the Center and major metropolitan cities for failing to quarantine international travelers to break the chain of infection that has claimed around 2,800 lives in his state.

“When (the Covid-19 pandemic) gets out of control, responsibility for all failures is placed on the states. The prime minister gave clear indications of uncertainty around the rate, dose and timing of availability of the vaccine. It would be good if the Center took care of this cost, ”said Baghel.

In his session, Baghel, who had previously called for Rahul Gandhi to take over Congress, also criticized the controversy over the inner workings of the party, especially after his dismal result in the Bihar polls, where he won only 19 of 70 seats. . fought.

In interviews and articles in the media, leaders such as Sibal and Azad have denounced the lack of accountability and introspection within the party, drawing criticism from other sections of Congress. The two were also among 23 leaders who wrote to the party’s chief, Sonia Gandhi, in August, calling for internal reforms.

Baghel said Rahul Gandhi was best suited to lead Congress because he had the acceptability of party cadres and was not afraid to confront the government on a variety of issues.

“Who has prevented Kapil Sibal or Ghulam Nabi Azad from speaking [against the Union government]? If there are national problems or the government is attacked, you never talk. They only attack the party in public, ”Baghel said.

“These leaders would tell us beforehand that we should present our position in the party forum. The same should apply to them, ”Baghel said.

The Chhattisgarh Prime Minister also detailed his government’s strategy to keep the state’s economy running, halt the outflow of migrant labor, and control hunger and poverty during the pandemic, explaining how the disease had transformed politics.

“Before, you couldn’t do politics without tours, rallies or meeting people. You are now confined to a room. I had never imagined it ”.

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