BJP promises free COVID-19 vaccines in Bihar election manifesto

Patna: The ruling Bhartiya Janata Party on Thursday promised to provide free COVID-19 vaccines to all residents of Bihar should the party come to power after the elections. The BJP made this promise while releasing its manifesto for assembly elections in Bihar which goes to poll from next week (October 28).

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“Various countries are working on COVID-19 vaccines. In India too, the trials are going on at least four such vaccines. But once the vaccine is available for production at a mass scale, it will be provided for free to everyone in Bihar,” federal Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the media on Thursday while releasing the party manifesto.

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She said vaccines are currently at various levels of trials adding the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in New Delhi had set an example for the country in its fight against Coronavirus. She, however, didn’t explain if the free vaccine would be available for only one state and not for the rest of India reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus has claimed 116,616 lives while infecting 7.7 million people so far.

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Poll gimmick

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The Opposition parties in Bihar rejected the BJP’s free vaccine promise as a poll gimmick only aimed at deceiving the innocent voters. “Everybody knows no Corona vaccine is available right now in the world and none knows when it will be available. How can they promise free vaccines to all? They are simply making such promises out of sheer desperation,” state Congress spokesperson Prem Chandra Mishra said. He said the BJP had been making only fake promises for the past six years just to stay in power.

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Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) spokesperson Shivanad Tiwari too wondered over the BJP promise. “They have not fulfilled even a single promise they made to the voters but now they are making another promise. Who will believe them,” asked Tiwari. The RJD heads the three-party Grand Alliance in Bihar giving a serious challenge to the BJP-led NDA in the state.

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COVID-19 cases which had shown a downward trend by the beginning of this month have suddenly gone up in Bihar owing to a sudden spurt in the political activities in the state and health experts warn they could prove deadlier. Reports said until the first week of October the Covid cases were reported around 1,000 per day but now it has touched the level of 2000. On October 20, the daily Covid cases went up to 1,837.

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Bihar is the first state in India going to polls at the time of Corona pandemic. According to the Election Commission guidelines, a maximum of 200 people could attend an outdoor public meeting but its guidelines have gone for a toss now with thousands attending election rallies of the political parties. Also, the crowds attending the rallies have been violating the Covid safety norms but ignoring face marks and social distancing.

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That happens even after Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to the masses to strictly follow the COVID-19 protocol. “We must keep in mind that the lockdown may have ended but the virus is still here. This is not the time to be careless or to believe that COVID-19 has ended. If you are careless and are moving around without a mask, you are putting yourself, your children and the elderly in your family at risk,” the PM said in an address to the nation on Tuesday evening.

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