Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday said he was not going to get vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) for now as the “BJP government cannot be trusted”. “I am not going to get vaccinated for now. How can I trust BJP’s vaccine, when our government will be formed everyone will get free vaccine. We cannot take BJP’s vaccine,” the SP president said.
Yadav also attacked the Yogi Adityanath led-BJP government in Uttar Pradesh over its handling of the pandemic. “Why cold-chain and refrigerators for vaccine now? This government was warding off Covid by clanging plates, claps, and hovering helicopters over hospitals,” he said while addressing the media a press conference at the party office in Lucknow.
Soon after the SP chief’s remarks, minister of state for finance and corporate affairs Anurag Thakur told news agency ANI, “Akhilesh Yadav’s statement that he ‘won’t get vaccinated as it’s a BJP vaccine’ is very unfortunate…What can be more unfortunate than a young leader linking Covid-19 vaccine with a political party. It shows Akhilesh Yadav can’t think above politics.”
Yadav was addressing the press conference on the sidelines of an event in which religious leaders from Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh communities from Ayodhya gathered to extend support to him and his party. Ahead of assembly elections in the state slated for 2022, the SP chief announced he would withdraw civic taxes (water, house, sewer) for people of Ayodhya. “It is the land of Maryada Purshottam Ram. It’s a religious place. If this government does not withdraw the civic taxes, our government will.” He added that he was a religious person and had a temple at home, outside, and had made one inside the chief minister’s residence when he was the chief minister.
In the run up to polls, earlier this week Yadav had said his party would return to power in UP in a “historic change” in 2022 and would then withdraw all cases lodged against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) protestors.
The SP leader’s comments regarding the vaccine come on a day when the Covid-19 vaccination dry run is underway across 259 vaccination centres in 116 districts of the country. Saturday’s immunisation drive is being conducted after the exercise was carried out on December 28 and 29 across four states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat and Punjab.
Earlier in the day, Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan announced that in the first phase of Covid-19 vaccination, free vaccine shall be provided across the nation to most prioritised beneficiaries that include one crore healthcare and two crore frontline workers.
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