Kerala CM’s free Covid vaccine offer sparks controversy
Ahead of a key phase of the local body elections, Kerala Prime Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s announcement that the state will release the Covid-19 vaccine has sparked a lot of controversy. The opposition Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) approached the state electoral commission on Sunday, saying it was a clear violation of the electoral code of conduct.
While addressing a press conference in Kannur (North Kerala) on Saturday, the CM had said that the state was waiting for vaccines from the Union government (once a candidate is approved) and that they will be distributed free of charge. He said the state will bear all the expenses for the Covid vaccine, like some of the prevailing vaccines. The big announcement, which came at a time when the final phase of the local body’s election is due to take place on Monday, angered opposition parties.
“It was a deliberate attempt to influence the voters. Neck-deep in trouble, the CM is turning to dirty politics. We have already submitted a written complaint to the Electoral Commission (EC). We need action against him, ”said Congressional Leader KC Joseph. BJP State President K Surendran also announced his plan to submit a petition to the EC. “He thinks the vaccine will save him from impending humiliation and shame. But he is wrong, ”he said.
The CM office has clarified that it was not an advertisement and that it was responding to a question from a journalist. There was no violation of the electoral code of conduct, he said.
Considered a semi-final before the assembly election expected in four months, the local body elections are held in three phases in the state. The first two phases are over and the final, in North Kerala, will take place on Monday. The results will be announced on December 16.