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'This Is Wrong': Journalists, Politicians Call Out Nirmala Sitharaman's Free COVID-19 Vaccine Promise During Bihar Poll

“As soon as COVID-19 vaccine will be available for production at mass scale, every person in Bihar will get free vaccination,” the Union Finance Minister said.
Nirmala Sitharaman
Screenshot
Nirmala Sitharaman

UPDATE — Activist Saket Gokhale has filed a complaint with the Election Commission regarding this announcement.

The BJP’s promise of free vaccination for each person in Bihar in its manifesto for the state election has drawn sharp criticism from people, journalists and politicians.

The announcement was made by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who released the party’s manifesto on Thursday. Bihar goes to polls next week.

“Bihar is a politically sensitive state. Here people cannot be fobbed off with empty promises. Claims made by parties are likely to be weighed against their past track record. This is where the BJP scores,” Sitharaman said during the press conference.

“As soon as COVID-19 vaccine will be available for production at mass scale, every person in Bihar will get free vaccination,” she said, adding, “This is the first promise mentioned in our poll manifesto.”

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi responded to this saying:

BJP’s election promise for Bihar was quickly slammed by several journalists who criticised the politicisation of a vaccine during a global pandemic.

People also had questions on what would happen to the promise if a BJP or NDA government did not come to power in Bihar.

Politicians also called out the Union minister’s statement and asked for Election Commission to take cognisance of it.

However, shortly after Sitharaman’s press conference BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya justified the promise saying health was a state subject and state government had the right to decide whether the vaccine would be provided for free.

Bihar goes to polls in three phases, starting on October 28. Counting of votes is set to take place on November 10.

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This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost India, which closed in 2020. Some features are no longer enabled. If you have questions or concerns about this article, please contact indiasupport@huffpost.com.