Patna: After criticism by the Opposition in Bihar, an ally the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photograph on vaccination certificates during the ongoing second wave of COVID. The ally has demanded that in that case, his (Modi) photograph should also be on death certificates of those who died due to COVID infection.
Jitan Ram Manjh, Bihar’s former chief minister and chief of Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), an NDA ally said her on Monday: “There is Modi’s photograph on vaccination certificates. There should be Modi’s photographs on death certificates of people dying of COVID, too. That will be more just”.
Manjhi’s public objection to Modi’s photograph on vaccination certificates has embarrassed the NDA. In a bid to justify and defend Modi, BJP state spokesperson Prem Ranjan Patel, without naming Manjhi ,said that anyone who has objections over Modi’s photographs on vaccination certificates should first collect information about it.
Manjhi on Sunday said that in place of PM, the photograph of the President should be on the vaccine because he is head of all the constitutional bodies. “If there should be photograph ,it should be of the President and Chief Minister of respective states,” he said.
Earlier, opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress and Left parties leaders also raised this issue of the PM’s photograph.
Ironically, Bihar like other states, is facing acute shortage of vaccines. The Bihar government has halted vaccinations for the 18 to 44 years of age group time and again for one day to four days this month due to lack of vaccines in the state. “Non availability of vaccine has forced to halt the vaccination drive,”a health department official told NewsClick.
The Nitish Kumar-led government last month announced to vaccinate 5.46 crore people of 18 to 44 years of age but this is a big challenge as there is uncertainty over availability and supply of vaccines. Vaccination for this age group was halted 10 days after it was started.
Earlier, the government had postponed the vaccination drive scheduled from May 1 in view of unavailability of doses. On April 30, Bihar State Health Society, a government agency in Patna, said that the ongoing registration for vaccination would continue and the vaccination would start from the second week of May.
According to health department officials, the ongoing vaccination for people above 45 years of age will continue in government-run hospitals, as vaccine doses for them are adequate in the storage.
Manjhi’s direct criticism of Modi is being widely seen as part of politics, as he is reportedly not comfortable in NDA due to the big brother attitude of BJP and its top leadership.
A political watcher said Manjhi was looking for more space in power politics, but is being denied so by Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) in the NDA-led government.”Manjhi latest stand may be a part of his strategy to play a bargain game with BJP. It is not without a solid basis”, he said.
After RJD Chief Lalu Prasad was granted bail last month by the court in the odder scam cases, political rumours are doing the rounds that two allies of the ruling NDA, Manjhi’s HAM and Mukesh Shahni’s Vikas Insan Party (VIP) may switch sides and extend support to the opposition Mahagathbandhan to form a new government. HAM and VIP have 4 MLAs each in the Assembly. Their number may be small but their support carries some weight.
In the 243-seat Bihar Assembly, the ruling NDA has 125 MLAs, including BJP 73,Janata Dal-United 43 and HAM 4 and VIP 4 MLA s. A BSP MLA joined JD-U later. The Opposition Mahagathbandhan, including RJD, Congress and Left parties, has 110 MLAs.
So, any statement from leaders of NDA's allies’ -- HAM and VIP -- triggers speculation in political circles amid COVID crisis.