Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday sensationally announced free COVID-19 vaccines only for Bihar ahead of assembly elections in the state. The announcement has triggered an angry backlash with opposition parties demanding stringent action from the Election Commission of India.
Releasing the BJP’s manifesto for the upcoming Bihar polls, Sitharaman told reporters, “As soon scientists clear COVID-19 vaccines and say we can produce these vaccines in India, everyone in Bihar will get free vaccination. This is the first promise mentioned in our poll manifesto.”
As soon as #COVID19 vaccine will be available for production at a mass scale, every person in Bihar will get free vaccination. This is the first promise mentioned in our poll manifesto: Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the launch of BJP Manifesto for #BiharPolls pic.twitter.com/x4VjVmkA3Q
— ANI (@ANI) October 22, 2020
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a potshot at the BJP’s attempt to lure voters with free COVID-19 vaccines and said, “GOI just announced India’s Covid access strategy. Kindly refer to the state-wise election schedule to know when will you get it, along with a hoard of false promises.”
Similar reactions followed on Twitter:
तुम मुझे वोट दो मैं तुम्हे वैक्सीन …. what appalling cynicism! Will the ElectionCommission rap her & her shameless Govt on the knuckles? https://t.co/ri1UlWWmgD
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) October 22, 2020
Nirmala Sitharaman: Every person in Bihar will be given free vaccination.
Journalist: Aur baaki states ke logon ko?
Nirmala: Jab unki states main election honge.
— Nirmala Tai (@CrypticMiind) October 22, 2020
Subhash Chandra Bose : Give me blood, I will give you freedom.
— Manu Sebastian (@manuvichar) October 22, 2020
Filed an urgent complaint with ECI regarding BJP’s announcement of free Covid-19 vaccine for Bihar by Union Finance Minister @nsitharaman.
This is not only discriminatory but also a false promise & blatant misuse of Central Govt. powers during elections.
— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) October 22, 2020
Gods Act 👏👏- Nirmala Sitharaman releasing BJP manifesto for Bihar, No doubt this will be like 20lakh crore stimulus package, full of Jumlas. @IYCBihar @INCIndia @RahulGandhi @rssurjewala @ShatruganSinha @yadavtejashwi https://t.co/InqOCBRfVU
— Dhananjaya Rai ✋ (@dhananjaya_rai) October 22, 2020
Bihar will go to polls in three phases with the first phase of elections set to be held on 28 October. Polling in the remaining two stages will take place on 3 and 7 November with the counting of votes for 10 November.