Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday announced her government was making arrangements to provide free Covid-19 vaccine to the people in the state. The Opposition BJP accused Banerjee of trying to take credit for the Centre’s efforts.
In an open letter, Banerjee said that “Covid warriors” or frontline workers such as police personnel, home guards, civil defence volunteers, and correctional home and disaster management employees would be administered the vaccine on a priority basis.
“I am happy to inform that our government is making arrangements for reaching the vaccine to all people of the state free of any charge,” the chief minister wrote in the letter addressed to the frontline workers.
Banerjee also expressed her gratitude for all such workers for their selfless service to the people of the state. “The government is taking steps to ensure that every citizen of the state receives free doses of the Covid-19 vaccine,” she added.
India is set to launch a Covid-19 vaccination drive from January 16, with priority given to nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers across the country.
Banerjee’s announcement of free vaccination for everyone comes months ahead of the state elections that are likely to be held in April-May.
“We have seen how you dedicated yourself to your jobs despite the fear of the pandemic. Keeping that in mind, I want to assure you that your vaccine doses will be sent to you in a timely manner,” Banerjee added.
Earlier, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had made a similar announcement. Kerala will also go to the polls along with Bengal. The Bihar Cabinet has also given the nod to provide free vaccines to the state’s residents, a promise the BJP made in its manifesto for the Assembly elections held in October-November last year.
The BJP, meanwhile, took a dig at Banerjee. BJP IT-Cell chief Amit Malviya accused the chief minister of “rushing to take credit” for the Centre’s efforts.
“Pishi [Banerjee] was a disaster when it came to managing Covid. From doctors to policemen, everyone protested against Chief Minister’s apathy. But now that the Centre has announced free priority vaccination for 3 crore frontline workers across the country, Pishi is rushing to take credit,” he tweeted.