'Set up help desks near Covid-19 vaccination centres': PM Modi in BJP MPs’ meet
Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked Bhartiya Janata Party(BJP) lawmakers and officials to set up help desks next to Covid-19 vaccination centres across the country, to help guide people, increase awareness of the vaccination drive, even ferry the old and the infirm to and from vaccination centres (much as is done during elections), people familiar with the mater said.
The Prime Minister was addressing members of parliament and while he highlighted the work done by the government over what has been a trying year for the country and pulled up MPs who played truant, the emphasis of his talk was on India’s ongoing vaccination drive, the largest such exercise in the world , as the country aims to vaccinate hundreds of millions of people against the coronavirus disease.
"BJP should help people get their vaccines,’’ he told the MPs this morning, according to three people who asked not to be named. “Why should we only set up help desks during elections. There are so many people who come without their I-card, who need some kind of help and so we should be there.’’
“Even if you have to park their cars, or help the elderly get to the vaccination camps, do that,” the PM said at the meeting according to a second person, a BJP MP.
Party president JP Nadda reiterated the message, the people said, and added that all state units should work to make the drive a success. He said that he units have already been instructed what to do. HT has reviewed a letter sent to all states by the party’s national general secretary, Arun Singh. It reads: “Party help desks to be set up at all vaccination centres in all mandals (divisions) for general awareness campaigns and help. Arrangements to be made for commuting of elderly and sick people to the vaccination sites and hospitals and drop them back.’’
Arun Singh’s letter dated March 5 lists 12 ways in which party lawmakers and officials can help .
According to the BJP MP cited above, Nadda, a former Union health minister recalled how PM Modi told him in early march last year that it would be a tough year on account of the pandemic (although cases in India didn’t really start climbing till April). ” At that time we hardly had any testing labs, but now we have 1000s, we have our own personal protection kits (PPEs); we have been able to tackle the pandemic successfully with Modiji’s vision.’’
Both the vaccines administered in India are locally made -- one, Covishield is the Indian version of Astra Zeneca-Oxford’s vaccine, made by Serum Institute, and the other, Covaxin, has been locally developed by Bharat Biotech.
Commenting on the meeting, inister of parliamentary affairs Pralhad Joshi said: “PM Modi said that all the MPs and party workers should help eligible people get COVID-19 vaccines including helping them reach the vaccination centres.’’
“The Prime Minister is a statesman and he advised us to work in a non electoral role,’’ said MP Rakesh Sinha. ``In situations where people require our assistance and sympathy, PM’s concern is beyond political and guided by social concern during the vaccination drive.”
The Prime Minister also had some tough words for those who’ve been irregular with their attendance in the house. ”You are here because of the people, the party has made you win, why do we always have to tell you to attend parliament? I don’t want to keep repeating this,’’ he said, according to a second BJP MP.
The MPs, however, were told they would get a long weekend with Friday being off, along with Thursday, which is a holiday on account of Shivratri . “They gave us the list of bills that will be brought till March 25; the finance bill expected on the 19th. And the session may end by March 25,’’ said the first MP.