Within hours of the BJP promising free COVID-19 vaccine to people of Bihar in its poll manifesto on Friday, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan repeated the promise of vaccine free for all citizens of the bypolls-bound state too.
However, within an hour and a half, the chief minister retracted and rephrased his promise, saying that the vaccine will be provided free to poor people of the state who cannot afford it. Chouhan deleted his ‘free for all’ tweet after coming up with the amended promise through a video statement, which was also posted on Twitter.
The opposition Congress has termed these statements of the chief minister as another example of deceit of the BJP, and a joke on the expense of the people of Madhya Pradesh who are worried about their health and life.
Chouhan posted a tweet on Thursday night (at 8.16pm), saying: “Citizens of my state. We have taken effective steps to save the people from COVID-19. At present it is totally under control. The work of preparing the coronavirus vaccine is continuing at a fast pace in India. As soon as it is ready, it will be provided to every citizen of Madhya Pradesh free of cost.”
However, at 9.37pm, Chouhan posted another tweet, saying, “Since the time COVID-19 vaccine trial started in India, there has been one discussion among the poor people: whether we will be able to afford the cost of the vaccine? Today I want to make it clear that every poor citizen of Madhya Pradesh will get the vaccine free of cost. We will win this battle.”
The post also included a video statement of the chief minister, in which he says that in Madhya Pradesh the pandemic had been controlled to a large extent. “Active cases are decreasing continuously and the government is making all out efforts for complete control on the disease. But the permanent remedy is that a vaccine is prepared and we get people vaccinated. The state government has decided that the poor brothers and sisters of the state will be given the COVID-19 vaccine free of cost so that the poor people also are safeguarded against the disease,” Chouhan said.
After this tweet came up, Chouhan deleted the earlier tweet that promised ‘vaccine free for all’.
Reacting to the same, vice chairman of the MP Congress media cell, Bhupendra Gupta, asked whether the COVID-19 vaccine is ready and whether the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) approved the third and fourth phase of trials of the vaccine. “It would have been better if the BJP would have waited for at least the vaccine to get ready before trying to deceive and lure the people. As for changing his statement from vaccine to all for the poor, this is a typical example of the fact that the BJP and CM Chouhan try to mislead the people and even play a joke on an issue that is life-threatening,” Gupta said.
The Congress is also likely to take up the announcement with the ECI for violation of model code of conduct.