BJP seeks probe into ‘vaccine profiteering’ by Punjab govt

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh, Lucknow, New Delhi |

June 6, 2021 4:23:44 am

The Punjab government’s move to withdraw the vaccines it sold to the private hospitals proves that there was a ‘vaccine scam’ going on in the state, the AAP Saturday said as opposition parties continued to target the Captain Amarinder Singh-led dispensation with the BJP seeking a probe and demanding that “heads should roll”.

AAP’s Harpal Cheema, who is also the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Punjab Assembly, said by ordering to withdraw the vaccines from private hospitals, Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu has admitted that the state government had committed a massive ‘vaccine scam’.

Cheema demanded that Balbir Sidhu be immediately removed from the Cabinet and a criminal case be registered against him and the persons involved in the vaccine scam.

The AAP leader said that at a time when people were expecting help from the government, the government was trying to rob them of their money. “It was the right of the people of Punjab to get free vaccination and the government should take action in this regard,” he added.

The BJP, meanwhile, fielded Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri to target the Amarinder Singh government, with the BJP leader asserting that the state dispensation’s decision to withdraw the controversial order shows that there was something “fishy” in the matter.

Taking a swipe at Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, Puri said they questioned the Modi government over the vaccine supply when their government in Punjab was indulging in alleged profiteering to the tune of Rs 38 crore by selling jabs to private hospitals.

“Government profiteering should stop. There should be a probe to bring facts in the public domain,” Puri said at a virtual press conference, adding “heads should roll”.

He also sought to know the “nature of the fund” to which the money received by the state government from private hospitals was credited.

Citing a Punjab government communication, he said it procured Covishield vaccines for Rs 412 per dose but sold it to private hospitals for Rs 1000 and they, in turn, charged Rs 1,560 from the people. Two private hospitals in Mohali charged people Rs 3,000 and Rs 3,200, he alleged.

Taking exception to the Punjab government statement that its decision has not been taken in the right spirit, Puri said this points to concealment of corruption and a culture of impunity in the Congress. For the Congress corruption is something to be taken for granted, he alleged.

Under flak from the opposition for “diverting” COVID vaccines to private hospitals, the Punjab government had withdrawn its order on Friday.

Puri alleged that the reason cited by the Punjab government for withdrawing the order reflects “poverty and incompetence” of the ruling dispensation in the state, “which draws its inspiration from Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi”.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati too hit out at the Punjab government, saying profiteering during an emergency is indecent and inhuman.

In a tweet in Hindi, Mayawati said, “The Congress government of Punjab is buying COVID-19 vaccines at Rs 400 (each) from the Centre and selling them to private hospitals at Rs 1,060 instead of passing on the benefits to the people through government hospitals. Profiteering during an emergency is indecent, inhuman, condemnable and extremely saddening.”

This makes it clear that the Congress’ stand and statements on vaccines so far lacked seriousness. The BSP demands that the Centre take cognisance of this, she said.

The Centre had on Friday written to the Punjab government seeking a clarification over reports that it sold Covaxin to private hospitals and earned a profit.

With PTI Inputs

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