Amid shortage of COVID vaccines and reports that states are rushing to import them, the Congress in Karnataka has said the party’s elected representatives will pool in funds up to ₹100 crore meant for local area development to procure vaccines.
“The government has miserably failed to protect and vaccinate people. Congress MPs, MLAs and MLCs, who are 95 in number, have decided to donate at least ₹1 crore each to procure vaccines,” former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who is also the Congress Legislature Party leader, said at a press conference in Bengaluru. He said ₹100 crore will be given by party leaders in Karnataka for the purpose.
State party chief D K Shivakumar said the Congress plans to launch the vaccination drive with ₹10 crore being contributed by the state party fund.
“Another ₹90 crore can come from the Congress MLA/MLC fund. I appeal to the Yediyurappa government to allow us to use the MLA/MLC funds to procure vaccines directly in a transparent manner because the Modi and Yediyurappa governments are failing to do so for months now,” he said.
Siddaramaiah called the party’s decision as unprecedented, saying it would go a long way to help the state vaccinate a large number of people.
In April, the Shiv Sena-led Mavikas Aghadi government, of which Congress is a part, in Maharashtra said it would import vaccines and that funds would be diverted from all departments to carry out an extensive inoculation drive. “We have decided to cut expenses of all departments and divert the funds for vaccine procurement. We will not limit our plans only to the two vaccines that are manufactured in the country (Covishield and Covaxin),” state Health Minister Rajesh Tope had said.
On May 13, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a tweet that India government approaching the vaccine-manufacturing countries will have much more bargaining power rather than the states doing it individually.
His deputy Manish Sisodia had earlier said Delhi will float a global tender for vaccines, while accusing the BJP-led Centre of forcing the states to do so. Around 100 vaccination centres have been closed down in Delhi as they ran out of their Covaxin stocks.