Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation today mentioned that it was state governments which demanded that they be allowed to procure vaccines for their citizens that prompted the Union Government to change its vaccination policy.
The state governments demanded that they should have more say in the procurement of vaccines. Soon, however, after realising that the task far exceeded their capabilities, they changed their tune and started demanding that vaccine procurement be centralised.
In this whole circus, one of the prominent characters, unsurprisingly, was former Congress president Rahul Gandhi. In a letter to Prime Minister Modi on the 8th of April, 2021, he demanded that state governments have a greater say in vaccine procurement.
Rahul Gandhi said in the letter, “Centralization and individualized propaganda are counter-productive. Even though Public Health is a state subject, our states have been bypassed right from vaccine procurement to registration.” Consequently, he demanded, “Give State governments a greater say in vaccine procurement and distribution.”
Rahul Gandhi was not the only opposition leader who demanded the same. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was also vocal in her demands for the same.
“We would request you to kindly take up the matter with appropriate authority, so that the state government is able to purchase the vaccines from designated point(s) on a top priority basis, because the West Bengal government wants to provide vaccination free of cost to all the people,” the letter by Mamata Banerjee on the 24th of February reads.
Narendra Modi revealed that two weeks into May, states started realising that the earlier policy was better. The earlier policy was a centralised vaccine procurement policy which the states wanted to be changed. Now, the Central Government, again on the request of states, has decided to revert to the earlier policy.
Now the Union Government will procure 75% of the vaccines available and distribute it to the states for free. 25% will still be available for private hospitals to purchase.