The Congress-ruled state of Chhattisgarh has gone ahead and replaced PM Modi’s photograph on the digital Covid-19 vaccine certificate being issued to recipients. In a decision that has been taken by the Congress-led government in the state, the certificate would henceforth carry the photograph of the Congress leader and the state chief minister Bhupesh Baghel. Prior to Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand’s coalition government, in which Congress is an alliance partner also started issuing a vaccination certificate with chief minister Hemant Soren’s photograph.
Explaining the decision, Chhattisgarh health minister TS Singh Deo said, “I don’t think there should be an issue on that. When the Government of India was providing the money and they had the Prime Minister’s photograph. If the state government is doing something, then we will use the chief minister’s photograph instead. When the Centre has left it on the states to bear the financial burden and the state governments are procuring their own vaccines, why should they not issue their own vaccine certificates? Why should the vaccine certificates carry the photo of PM Narendra Modi?”
This decision, first by the Jharkhand government, which has Congress as an alliance partner, then by the Congress-led government in Chhattisgarh is rather interesting, given that Congress leaders were decrying the ‘vanity’ of the central government and specifically PM Modi in adding the picture of the PM on the COVID-19 vaccine certificates.
In fact, for the past few months, many Congress leaders have been creating a widespread furore over it. Many have taken to social media to say that the Central government’s move reeks of obsessive self-projection and promotion.
“My younger son, who is currently pursuing his education in UK, got his first shot in London. No photo of Boris Johnson on the certificate, unlike what occupies pride of place with flowing beard on the CoWin certificate in our country”, Tweeted Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on May 11.
My younger son, who is currently pursuing his education in UK, got his first shot in London. No photo of Boris Johnson on the certificate, unlike what occupies pride of place with flowing beard on the CoWin certificate in our country.— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) May 11, 2021
Srivatsa, national campaign in-charge of Youth Congress, had also in his Tweet dated May 9, whined about PM Modi’s picture on the vaccine certificates.
Dec 7th, 1996: 11.74 cr children— Srivatsa (@srivatsayb) May 9, 2021
Jan 18th, 1997: 12.73 cr children
On each of these days, Indian govt had given Free Polio Virus Vaccine to crores of children. They were world records.
Was there CoWin? OTP? PM pic on certificate?
Modi is an useless PM who knows only to talk.
Maharashtra Congress also denounced the central government for having PM Modi’s picture on the certificate.
PM announced DEMONetization, not Finance Minister,— Maharashtra Congress (@INCMaharashtra) May 15, 2021
PM does Pariksha Pe Charcha, not Education Minister
PM’s photo is on the vaccine certificate, not Scientists who manufactured vaccines
PM can’t have centralization of praise but decentralization of criticism.#FailendraModi
Meanwhile, a Maharashtra state minister from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) claimed it is “absolutely wrong to have political personalities on a vaccination certificate”.
There are two sides to this argument that must be considered. Firstly, the fact that Congress and its allies had decried the central government for putting the picture of PM Modi on the COVID-19 vaccine and secondly, the fact that they have done it themselves now.
In their explanation, Congress has said that since it was PM Modi who was paying for the vaccines earlier, the central government had put his picture of the COVID-19 vaccine certificate and that there is nothing wrong now, if the CMs put their own picture since they are paying for the vaccine.
One daresay, that Congress is absolutely right. When the central government was rolling out phase-wise vaccines, it was indeed the central government that was paying for the vaccines. Now, for those between 18 and 45, the states are meant to acquire the vaccines either from the central government or from the manufacturers themselves. Therefore, if the Congress party says that the Chief Ministers’ photos must be on the vaccination certificate since the state is paying for the vaccines administered to those between 18 and 45, there is, on the face of it, nothing wrong with it.
However, Congress must admit here, therefore, that their previous criticism of the central government and the Prime Minister was facetious and purely motivated by politics, not by reason. If Congress thinks that is justified for them to use the picture of their CM now, when they are paying for the vaccine, then their explanation automatically serves as an admittance that there was nothing wrong with the central government using PM Modi’s picture when the central government was paying for the vaccines.
One can’t simply attribute vanity to the central government when they make a decision, and suddenly decide that when they do the same, they have a legitimate reason to do so. What is good for the goose, has to be good for the gander and the wisdom cannot only dawn when the responsibility falls on to them.
One wonders if the Congress party and its leaders will now retract their criticism of the Prime Minister, but given their track record of playing petty politics, one should not really hold their breath.