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While taking aim at Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri over his baseless statements, Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu today said that there’s no question of profiteering by the State from supply of vaccines “when the whole amount paid by a few private hospitals has been deposited in the State Vaccination Fund for purchase of vaccines for vaccinating the citizens of the State free of cost.”

Bittu said that the state government is already committed to free vaccination to all the citizens of Punjab.

“The real issue for which the central government is squarely responsible is the woefully inadequate supply of vaccines, which the State is not getting even after placing order with the SII, Pune. Why did the BJP fail to ensure supply of adequate vaccines to the country? All vaccine supplies, whether from domestic or foreign suppliers, are totally being controlled by the Union government. It’s a matter of great shame that the Union government failed to negotiate supplies of vaccines with both domestic and foreign manufacturers in 2020. The manufacturing capacity of SII and Covaxin should also have been expanded in big way; all this, despite the fact that the India is a Pharma hub of the entire world,” alleged MP Bittu.

It again a matter of shame that only Covishield 4.29 lac doses received so far despite the fact that the State placed order for 30 lac Covishield vaccine doses with SII as soon as GoI announced its new Vaccine Policy. Apart from paying Rs.18.27 cr. for 5.43 lac vaccine doses, Punjab Government has paid Rs.22.88 cr. as advance for procurement of 6.88 lac vaccine doses, which are yet to be received.

According to information put out by the GoI on 26th May, many of the BJP ruled states were having huge stocks of vaccine doses with them. On top of the list was U.P. which had stockpiles of 25 lac vaccine doses in their stock followed by Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh – GoI never gave the state its due allocation of vaccines.

As per the MoHFW data, as on June 1, 2021, vaccine coverage of Punjab is 14.13%, which is lowest than that of the neighbouring states and U.T. because the state has been getting very less vaccine supplies, which is highly discriminatory and stepmotherly treatment is being meted out to the border State, which is the granary of the country and also its swordarm.

We had demanded that vaccines be provided free to every citizen of the country. Can Hardeep Singh Puri explain why the BJP came out with the Policy for paid vaccination by the States and by the Private Hospitals with no cap on the margins. Earlier the GoI had capped the charges to be taken by the private hospitals at a maximum of Rs.100/-, but now the GoI had left it open to the private hospitals to charge as much as they want. “This loot by the private hospitals, if any, is the result of faulty policies of the Central Government. Punjab government has nothing to do with this.,” said Bittu.

Why has the Union government come out with different price for the same vaccines – Rs.150/- for GoI and Rs.300/- for State Governments; even the Supreme Court of India has castigated the Union government while questioning the rationale behind this type of pricing.

While questioning the Union Minister, Bittu said, “If Hardeep Puri is speaking of Punjab and its issues as a BJP karyakarta, where was he when Punjab was faced with an acute shortage of oxygen and there was a risk of patients dying in Amritsar due to shortage of Oxygen. Did he arrange even one tanker or cylinder of oxygen for the citizens of Punjab during the time of acute shortage of oxygen.”

Puri is a disgrace both to the Sikhs and Punjabis. It’s unfortunate that he allowed the Ordinance on Central Farm Laws to be passed in June 2020. He’s complicit for the death of hundreds of farmers in Punjab and on Delhi borders since September 2020. He needs to explain whether he tried to put forth the case of the Punjab farmers and their livelihoods when the Black Ordinances were promulgated in June 2020 and Acts passed by Parliament in September 2021. Did he even open his mouth once to espouse the cause of the farmers of Punjab and the country. Has he ever visited a Punjab Farm once or interacted with the poor distressed farmers ever in his life to understand their issues and problems. Does he understand that the agrarian sector has been in deep distress for over more than a decade.

He’s a mouthpiece for the BJP. It’s shameful that he’s calling the 3 Central Farm Laws pro-farmer. Does he have the guts to go to Singhu or Tikri border and explain the so-called benefits of the central Farm laws which the BJP and SAD tried to push through the throats of the Punjabis without any debate or discussion in June and September right during the middle of the horrid Covid pandemic. How cruel can the BJP and its Hindutva can be?

Can Puri tell us why did the central government make an offer to the Kissan Union leaders that the central laws can be put on hold, if he thinks that the central farm laws were pro-farmer. What wrong with listening to the people and rethinking and revising government policies and even laws, if a large majority of people are of the opinion that they are not for their benefit and in fact affect them adversely.

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