All Citizens to get Free COVID Vaccine, Union Minister Sarangi Clarifies

After a controversy brewed in poll-bound Bihar after the BJP announced free COVID vaccines for people of the state, Union Minister for Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairying Pratap Sarangi today clarified that the Central government has made provisions for distributing the vaccine to all Indians for free.

The BJP’s poll strategy to lure votes by promising voters free vaccines backfired on the national party as several opposition parties latched onto the manifesto claim and inquired if non poll-bound states were of lesser importance. Opposition parties have also said that the incident is a blatant reflection of the BJP’s willingness to use the pandemic for political gains.

Sarangi, a BJP MP for Odisha’s Balasore, clarified on the matter after Odisha Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister RP Swain raised a question in the Parliament. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also backed Sarangi’s statement by stating that the announcement was in order as it was already an election manifesto commitment. An estimated ₹500 per person will be spent by the government for last-mile completion of the vaccination process. The total sum sanctioned by the government for the purpose is said to be as high as ₹50,000 crores as per some sources.

Mr Swain had earlier tweeted “I am asking questions to two Odisha union ministers from Balasore soil to clarify as to why the people of the state will not get free of cost COVID vaccine. The union ministers should clarify BJPs stand on the corona vaccination in Odisha.” He later said that the Odisha government has already entered into an agreement with a vaccine manufacturer and is committed to extending vaccination for people of the state.