Twelve Opposition parties have written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging the Centre to take steps to speed up the vaccination of the entire country. The parties, including the Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena, TMC and DMK, have said that the vaccines should be free and universal. They also push the government to expand vaccine procurement, by tapping all sources locally and internationally.

This is the second letter to the Centre from the Opposition in May. The first letter on May 3 had focused on the oxygen crisis. Both letters called for the government to spend the ?35,000 crore budgetary allocation for vaccinations. Yesterday’s letter went further on the funding for vaccinations, asking for all the money in PM CARES, calling it an “unaccounted private trust fund.” It also called for the scrapping of the Central Vista project, and the money spent on COVID care. The revamping of the Parliament building, Prime Minister’s house and other surrounding buildings has come in for much criticism as it has been allowed to proceed as an “essential activity” amid the lockdown in Delhi.

The BJP has chosen to take a confrontational stance on Opposition criticism, with sharp responses to statements and coordinated efforts to present the case for the government’s deeds on social media. They have doubled down on the Central Vista and have mostly left it to the States and private hospitals to fill the gaps in vaccinations.

Some of the signatory parties, such as the DMK, TMC and the CPI(M) carry the weight of recent wins in Assembly elections. With public criticism building over the handling of the second wave, the government will find it hard to sustain a confrontational approach to the opposition without appearing callous. This is what makes the story important.(the Hindu)


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