Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan on Friday hit out at the government’s promise of free COVID-19 vaccine for all sections of people as soon as it is made available. This comes a day after the BJP in Bihar, as well as the Tamil Nadu government, assured free immunisation against coronavirus for all sections of people.

On October 22, the BJP, which is supremely confident of winning the crucial Bihar assembly election 2020 under Nitish Kumar’s leadership, released its election manifesto, which promises free COVID-19 vaccine for all. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sithraman had said that free COVID-19 vaccine will be provided to all in Bihar once it has been cleared by the ICMR.

A few hours later, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami said,  “I would like to announce that as soon as the vaccine is developed (and made available to states) all people in Tamil Nadu will be immunised and the government shall bear the cost.”

Speaking on this, Haasan slammed the vaccine politics and called it an evil promise for the non-existent vaccine. He said, “Vaccine is a life-saving drug, not a sprinkling promise.”

He further slammed the government saying, “You are used to playing with people’s poverty. If you dare to play with their lives your political longevity will be decided by them.”

In Bihar, the BJP manifesto said, “The NDA government in Bihar has set an example before the country in the fight against corona. It’s our resolve that once the vaccine against the coronavirus has been cleared by the ICMR, we will make it available to the people of Bihar free of cost.” 

Interestingly, this has also been one of the top agenda in the BJP’s election document. Clearly, with the tagline of ‘BJP hai to bharosa hai’, the saffron leadership is trying to connect with the voters of Bihar while relying upon the trust enjoyed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi among the masses by virtue of pro-people measures.

Speaking about the coronavirus vaccine, the FM had said India has reached a point where it is on the verge of producing three vaccines after different stages of the trial. “When we reach the stage where scientists give clearance for large-scale production of the vaccine, we will make it available to the people of Bihar free of cost,” she had said.

However, BJP’s promise of free COVID-19 vaccines for Biharis has drawn the ire of its main political adversaries, who have criticised the party for trying to take political mileage from a global pandemic. The BJP’s critics have accused the party of playing with people’s sentiments and attempting to capitalise on the ‘fear’ among the masses regarding the deadly coronavirus disease.

Opposition parties like the RJD, Congress, AAP etc have sought to know from BP if it only cares about those in Bihar or is it because of assembly election that Bihar has suddenly become its top priority. What about people in other states and Union Territories, who are also eagerly waiting for the COOVID-19 vaccine, they seem to know. 

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The opposition political parties and their leaders have called it “appalling cynicism”, “blatant populism”, and questioned what will happen in non-BJP-ruled states. “The Government of India announced India’s Covid access strategy. Kindly refer to the state-wise election schedule to know when will you get it, along with a hoard of false promises,” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted soon after the announcement, taking a dig at the BJP.

Last week, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said India is expected to have a COVID-19 vaccine in a few months and the country should be in the process of delivering it to people in the next six months. The COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of trials. 

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