12 Oppn leaders write to PM Modi, demand free mass vaccination, suspension of Central Vista project

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New Delhi: Leaders of 12 opposition parties Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking a free mass vaccination campaign against coronavirus, and a suspension of the central vista revamp project to aid the fight against the pandemic.

In a joint letter to the prime minister, the opposition leaders, including some chief ministers, also demanded providing foodgrains to the needy, and giving Rs 6,000 per month to the unemployed.

The leaders have also demanded a repeal of the three Central farm laws which, they claimed, will help protect lakhs of ‘annadatas’ (food-growers) from becoming the victims of pandemic.

A large number of farmers are sitting in protest at three borders of Delhi, seeking the farm laws passed by Parliament in September last year be scrapped.

The signatories to the joint letter include Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister and JDS leader H D Deve Gowda and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar.

Others include chief ministers Uddhav Thackeray (Shiv Sena), Mamata Banerjee (TMC), MK Stalin (DMK), and Hemant Soren (JMM).

Former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah (NC) and Akhilesh Yadav (SP) have also signed the letter, alongside Tejashwi Yadav (RJD), D Raja (CPI) and Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M). 

The leaders have said the Covid-19 pandemic has assumed unprecedented dimensions of a human catastrophe in the country, and that it was absolutely imperative for the Central government to undertake and implement these measures. 

“Unfortunately, your government has either ignored or refused all these suggestions. This only compounded the situation to reach such an apocalyptic human tragedy,” they said. 

Without going into all the “acts of commission and omission” by the Central government that have brought the country to such a “tragic pass”, the opposition leaders demanded that some measures suggested by them must be undertaken on a war footing.

“Procure vaccines centrally from all available sources – global and domestic. Immediately begin a free, universal mass vaccination campaign across the country. Invoke compulsory licensing to expand domestic vaccine production. Spend budgetary allocation of Rs 35,000 crores for the vaccines,” the leaders said in their letter.

“Stop Central Vista construction. Use the allocated money for procuring oxygen and vaccines, instead. Release all money held in the unaccounted private trust fund, PM Cares to buy more vaccines, Oxygen and medical equipment required,” they also told the prime minister.

The opposition leaders also demanded giving all jobless at least Rs 6,000 per month and a free distribution of foodgrains to the needy, saying over one crore tonnes of foodgrains are currently “rotting in central godowns”.

“Repeal farm laws to protect lakhs of our annadatas becoming victims of the pandemic so that they can continue to produce food to feed the Indian people,” they said. 

“Though it has not been the practice of your office or government, we would appreciate a response to our suggestions in the interests of India and our people,” the leaders said in the letter.