Want to start free vaccination before assembly polls, Mamata writes to PM
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help the state begin the process of free Covid-19 vaccination ahead of the assembly polls, the dates of which are expected to be announced in the first week of March.
“We would request you to kindly take up the matter with appropriate authority so that state government is able to purchase the vaccines from designated points on top priority basis, because the West Bengal government wants to provide vaccination free of costs to all the people,” Banerjee wrote in her letter sent on Wednesday.
She added that since the state was headed for elections, the government had to reach out to every government employee urgently to ensure safe polls.
The state has a population of around 90 million, as per the 2011 census. According to the election commission data, it has 73.2 million eligible voters. It has been able to vaccinate around 800,000 people comprising health workers, police, municipal workers and other frontline workers.
“The worrying point is that in the ensuing elections, the people in general would be forced to go to the polling stations without any vaccination coverage. We feel that it is equally important to reach out to them with a rapid vaccination program immediately for interest of health and well-being of all concerned with the election process,” the CM’s letter states.
This letter comes amid a volley of charges the ruling Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have been trading over Central schemes and funding. While the BJP has alleged that the TMC has deprived the people of Central schemes such as the Ayushman Bharat and PM Kisan Nidhi, the TMC has alleged that Centre was not released funds to the state.
Over the past few years, the BJP has emerged as the TMC’s main rival. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the party won 40% of the vote share and 18 of the 42 seats in the state. The TMC won 43% of the vote share and 22 seats. The BJP is now targeting over 200 of the 294 seats in the state assembly.