‘How could PM Modi visit US where Covaxin is not approved?’ Mamata Banerjee

Banerjee’s statements came while she was addressing a post-Durga puja cultural event held by the police in Siliguri town
West Bengal chief minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee. (PTI)
West Bengal chief minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee. (PTI)
Published on Oct 24, 2021 10:00 PM IST
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West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday wondered how could Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit America in September after taking the indigenously developed Covaxin which is not yet approved by the US health regulator against the coronavirus disease.

On a five-day tour to the north Bengal districts, Banerjee, while addressing a post-Durga puja cultural event held by the police in Siliguri town, said, “How could Modi visit America if he took Covaxin? America has not given recognition to Covaxin. Thousands of students and businessmen cannot enter America because of that. In Bengal, many people received Covishied which has been approved by foreign countries. I have even written to the Prime Minister to take steps so that Covaxin gets the approval.”

The chief minister attacked the Centre on several issues, ranging from price rise to the Covid pandemic, claiming that Bengal stands third in the country in vaccination despite the Centre allotting lesser vials for her state which has a high population of 101.9 million.

“Those who played gongs and utensils should look at Bengal. We were the first to start mass vaccination. We have administered 70 million vaccines so far. However, only 40 million people have received the second dose,” said Banerjee indirectly taking a swipe at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders who asked people to play the gongs and light candles outside their homes last year to muster solidarity in the fight against Covid-19.

“In a country of 1300 million, only 295.1 million have received the second dose till today, says the government. This is jumla (propaganda). Bengal stands third in vaccination because we received fewer vaccines, although our population is high. We bought vaccines with state funds. They (Centre) is giving certificates to vaccinated people. Will the death certificates carry Narendra Modi’s photograph as well? A few million have died so far,” said Banerjee.

Covaxin, made by Bharat Biotech, was not approved for emergency use by USA’s top public health regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Rejecting Covaxin’s application for emergency use in the US, the FDA sought more data on clinical trials.

Modi received his first dose of Covaxin at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on March 1.

“Took my first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at AIIMS. Remarkable how our doctors and scientists have worked in quick time to strengthen the global fight against COVID-19. I appeal to all those who are eligible to take the vaccine. Together, let us make India COVID-19 free!” he tweeted with a photograph of him receiving the shot.

The Prime Minister received his second dose at AIIMS on April 8. He announced this in a tweet and urged citizens to get their names registered on the government’s Cowin website.

The Bengal chief minister also targeted the Centre for the steep rise in petrol and diesel prices.

“Prices of diesel and petrol are shooting up every day. This is hurting common people. Very soon you will have to cook with coal. Strangely, nobody is bothered. Nobody is saying a word. But we will protest,” she said.

Though the Bengal BJP has targeted Banerjee for not taking a strong stand on the attack on Hindus during Durga puja in Bangladesh, the chief minister skipped the issue. Instead, she said the festival took place peacefully in Bengal.

“The BJP alleged that I do not allow Durga puja in Bengal. Such a big festival took place and not a single untoward incident took place. This is not Tripura where even Santosh Mohan’s Deb’s daughter (TMC leader Sushmita Deb) was assaulted recently. How many assaults took place in north Bengal after the assembly polls? The BJP is campaigning all day. Why don’t you (BJP) look at Tripura? People cannot enter Uttar Pradesh. In Delhi, power cuts have affected life,” said Banerjee.

She even questioned the Centre’s decision to extend the area of jurisdiction of the Border Security Force in Bengal, Assam and Punjab from 15 km of the international border to 50 km.

“What does this mean? We do not want this. Our relations with Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh are very good. They (BJP government) are doing this to capture more power. How much more power do you want? Your demands seem to have no end,” she said.

Reacting to Banerjee’s statement on Modi visiting the USA after taking Covaxin, Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said the chief minister failed to see the paradigm shift in India’s position before the world after the rule of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) came to an end.

“Modi visited America because the vaccine represents the success of India’s scientific community. Covaxin has not been approved yet because there is pressure from international pharmaceutical companies. These issues will be sorted out in no time. Banerjee needs to understand that all nations respect India. There has been a paradigm shift in their position since the Congress-led UPA era,” said Bhattacharya.

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Thursday, December 02, 2021