'Following predecessor's path': Chidambaram slams new health minister Mandaviya over Covid vaccine shortage
A week after advising newly appointed Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya to ensure adequate and uninterrupted supply of vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) to states, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Thursday said the former was following path of his predecessor (Dr Harsh Vardhan) and state after state were complaining of a shortage of doses.
As the second wave of the pandemic continued to batter India and the third wave seems to be inching closer, several states and Union Territories (UTs), including Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, have flagged a shortage of vaccines. In Maharashtra, health minister Rajesh Tope has said the state needs a minimum of three crore doses per month to vaccinate eligible beneficiaries at the earliest. In the national capital of Delhi, nearly 50 per cent of the vaccination centres were shut on Wednesday as the government ran out of supplies again, Hindustan Times reported.
Taking to Twitter, Chidambaram said on Thursday, “New health minister @mansukhmandviya is following the same path as his predecessor. It is a pity. State after state is complaining of a vaccine shortage. Vaccination centers have “no vaccine” boards. People standing in line have to return home after the vaccination centres run out of vaccines.”
Earlier, amid complaints raised by states regarding the shortage of doses, Mandaiviya said useless statements were being made to create panic among the public and 13.50 crore vaccines were available for use. The central government, meanwhile, on many occasions has asserted that the entire population will be vaccinated by year-end.
Chidambaram asked Mandaivya whether complaints raised by the state health ministers were lies. “Are people being turned away in newspapers and TV news because there is no vaccine dose, the news is fake? The conclusion is that the public is being fooled between the Center and the states,” the senior Congress leader said in a subsequent tweet.
Chidambaram, along with other prominent leaders of the Congress, including Rahul Gandhi, has been criticising the Centre over its handling of the pandemic. On April 28 this year, the former Union minister said he was “appalled” by the statement of the then health minister Harsh Vardhan that there was no shortage of vaccines, oxygen supplies or Remdesivir in the country and urged people to revolt “against a government that is assuming all the people of India are fools.”