Harsh Vardhan criticises Manmohan Singh on his letter to PM on covid management

NEW DELHI: In a sharp rebuttal to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s letter to the Centre, advising on covid management, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday blamed Congress-ruled states for the fresh surge in covid-19 cases by raising doubts over available vaccines.

Tweeting his reponse, Harsh Vardhan said, “History shall be kinder to you Dr Manmohan Singh ji if your offer of ‘constructive cooperation’ and valuable advice was followed by your @INCIndia leaders as well in such extraordinary times!”

On Sunday, Singh had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging his government to make public the details of the orders of the vaccines placed and also share their distribution strategy since India was “facing an unprecedented emergency”.

In response, Harsh Vardhan today said, “irresponsible” comments made by some Congress leaders have resulted in a below-average national vaccination coverage of senior citizens and even front-line workers in some of the party-ruled states.

“People in responsible positions in your party as well as in the state governments formed by your party do not seem to share your view,” Vardhan said in the letter.

Over the last 24 hours, India reported 2,73,810 new cases, pushing the caseload to 1,50,61,919. About 1,619 covid-related deaths were reported in the country, taking the death toll to 1,78,769.

Maharashtra reported 68,631 infections, accounting for nearly 25% of the new cases, on Sunday, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 30,566 new infections and Delhi with 25,462 new cases.

“Let alone thanking our scientists, many Congress members and Congress ruled state governments have taken extraordinary interest in spreading falsehoods regarding the efficacy of these vaccines, thereby fuelling vaccine hesitancy, and playing with the lives of our countrymen,” the minister alleged.

With due respect, and “irrespective of the negativity that your party spreads”, Vardhan said he takes Singh’s suggestions at face value and with the belief that they are made keeping national interest in mind.

“However, it does seem that those who drafted your letter or advised you, have done a great disservice to your standing by misleading you regarding material that is already in public domain,” he said.

On Singh’s advice of allowing import of vaccines that have already been approved by credible foreign authorities, the health minister said, a decision on this had been taken a week ahead of “your suggestion”. The same is the case with suggestion regarding providing funds and other concessions to augment vaccine manufacturing. This decision had also been taken many days before receipt of Singh’s letter and multiple vaccine manufacturing entities have been funded by the government to immediately enhance production.

“Anyway, despite such factual inaccuracies, we understand your deep concern for the country and also assure you that we share the same,” Harsh Vardhan said. “We request your continued cooperation in the battle against the pandemic and welcome more such illuminating suggestions. However, as a senior leader, we expect that you shall offer the same advice and wisdom to your own party leaders as well,” he added.

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