PM Modi’s ‘political call’ to open vaccination for all and reduce campaign in Bengal

Monday was a day of big political calls taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he decided to open vaccination for all adults from May 1 in the private sector and drastically downsized his own campaign and that of the BJP in West Bengal. Even a few days ago, bureaucrats like VK Paul of NITI Aayog and Secretary of Health Rajesh Bhushan cited the international experience with immunization and World Health Organization (WHO) protocols as a firm claim that the vaccination was not yet open to those under 45. of age. Election compulsions were supported by top BJP leaders like Ravi Shankar Prasad until Monday morning in Calcutta not to curtail the BJP election campaign and the ball was thrown into the Election Commission courtroom to respond to the call. But the Modi government faced fierce political opposition on both counts.

This prompted Modi to make a political decision on both fronts on Monday after marathon meetings with his top bureaucratic team on immunization and top BJP officials on the West Bengal elections. There was a feeling inside the party that public sentiment seemed to be against the fact that vaccination was not available to the younger workforce amid a strong second wave that further infects young people. The government is now describing the new milestone as the launch of the “world’s most liberal immunization program” from May 1. Likewise, the outlook was not favorable for the BJP, with party activists doing a battery of road shows and large gatherings in West Bengal at a time when the second wave of Covid is raging and all the others parties in the fray have announced the reduction of their campaigns. On Monday, PM Modi urged the BJP to mobilize all of its executives in the spirit of Seva (service) in these difficult times.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has long been pushing for universal immunization, along with CMs in worst-affected states like Maharashtra and Delhi who wanted states to have the ability to purchase vaccines directly from manufacturers instead. centralized system currently accused by states of political bias led by the opposition. In West Bengal, Gandhi was the first to announce that he would no longer campaign in the wake of Covid. Although Congress didn’t have much interest in Bengal, Gandhi’s appeal prompted CM Mamata Banerjee to announce a scaled-down campaign as well, leaving the BJP politically isolated as its main leaders Amit Shah and JP Nadda held 4 daily to 5 major public events.

The correction of focus on vaccination and the election campaign is a rare occasion where the BJP led by Modi has reconsidered its position with a political appeal. “From now on, all freedom is given to States in the field of vaccination. Let’s see how they deal with vaccination now, because they no longer have the luxury of politically blaming the Center if things don’t go as planned, ”a political source said.

The logic

Sources in the government argued that there was a method for the new decisions, saying the new assessment showed that immunization of those 45 and over had progressed well and that nearly half of the country’s elderly had already been vaccinated. “The problem is knowing when to start vaccination for larger age groups, after assessing the capacity of the condition and the ability to manage adverse reactions to the vaccine. You have to go slowly at the start, like all countries. Scaling up is now effective from May 1 because we are more confident in the capacity, ”said a senior government official. The government statement raised the important point that “good coverage if vulnerable groups are expected by April 30”. However, the point is that government bureaucrats had until recently hinted that the eligible age groups would be lowered slightly by May and not all adults.

Allowing states, private parties, and private hospitals to purchase vaccines directly from vaccine manufacturers and even allow them to import vaccines without bridging trials is another major step to vaccinating everyone over the age of 18. years, according to sources. “The government is only seeking 50% of the supply from vaccine manufacturers for the monthly doses released by the Central Medicines Laboratory (CDL) but has not sought part in the import of vaccines which is fully open to the public. private sector, ”said a source. This step will also allow companies to vaccinate their staff through their own arrangements so that the young working population is safe from Covid in a timely manner and the economy is not stuck as in 2020.

On Bengal, a top BJP political leader in the state told News18 the party was not worried about a scaled-down campaign (public meetings with less than 500 people) in the remaining week. in the countryside. “We are already winning over 200 seats. Congress canceled its campaign because it doesn’t stand a chance here anyway, as the CM gatherings have never gathered more than 1,000 to 2,000 people, ”said the BJP leader.

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