Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health. (File image)
The BJP chose Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to take on former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In reply to a letter written by Singh to his successor, Narendra Modi, about the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in India, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on April 19 said it will “kinder” if his “offer of ‘constructive cooperation’ and valuable advice was followed by Congress leaders as well”.
Singh wrote to Prime Minister Modi on April 18 suggesting five measures to battle the COVID-19 crisis, including ramping up vaccination and boosting the supply of medicines.
In the letter to Prime Minister Modi, the veteran Congress leader said one must not look at absolute numbers but the total percentage of the population that has been vaccinated.
In the reply, Vardhan said: “Your advice to not get tempted to go by absolute numbers, but to go by percentage of population covered, is not incorrect. However, I am sure that you will agree with me that this is a practice that must be followed uniformly, and junior members of your party too must follow your advice.”
“Quite obviously, it cannot be that the discussion on total cases, active cases or mortality is based on absolute numbers, which the Congress party often tries to do, but the vaccination numbers continue to be touted as a percentage of the population covered,” Vardhan said in the letter.
The Union Health minister further said that it was “saddening” that while he understood the importance of vaccination as an important method of fighting COVID-19, people in responsible positions in Congress as well as in the state governments formed by his party, do not seem to share his view.
Vardhan mentioned that some Congress leaders “even shamed the vaccines in public but took their doses privately, quietly.”
“A word of advice from you to them – even if it had been done in private by you – may have ensured better cooperation from these people,” the letter stated.
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The health minister sought the attention of Singh towards the “factual inaccuracies” of the letter written to PM Modi.
“For example, take the point that you have mentioned about allowing import of vaccines that have already been approved by credible foreign authorities,” said Vardhan. A decision on this had already been taken a week ahead of Singh’s suggestion on April 11, he said.
Concluding the letter, Vardhan requested Singh for his “continued cooperation in the battle against the pandemic” and welcomed more such “illuminating” suggestions. “However, as a senior leader we expect that you shall offer the same advice and wisdom to your own party leaders as well,” he added, not without a touch of malice.Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.