Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal today demanded a high court monitored probe into the manner in which the Congress government was playing with the lives of Punjabis by creating an artificial shortage of vaccines for the common man by selling vaccine doses at a hefty profit to private hospitals.
The SAD President, who addressed a press conference on this issue, said a case should be registered against Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu for diverting vaccines meant for the common man to private institutions even as he averred that the issue had the makings of a major scam. He said the scandal had also exposed Congress de facto leader Rahul Gandhi who had recently demanded free vaccines for all. “Rahul Gandhi should tell if he supports the Punjab government’s move to force the common man to pay Rs 1560 per dose”. He also condemned State chief secretary Vini Mahajan for taking on the role of a marketing director of private institutions by tweeting that people should get themselves vaccinated at two private institutions at inflated rates.
Demanding that the Congress government stop this discrimination against the common man immediately, Badal said if this corporatization of vaccine distribution is not stopped the SAD would be forced to approach the courts for justice. He also announced that once a SAD led government was formed it would probe the entire issue and ensure exemplary punishment to those who had endangered the well being of the poor and under privileged sections of society.
Blowing the lid off the entire scam, Sukhbir Badal said vaccine doses were available in the State but they were being sold to private institutions instead of being given free of cost to the common man. He said a Covaxin dose costing the State Rs 400 was being sold to private institutions at Rs 1060. He said the private hospitals were further selling the dose at Rs 1560. “This amounts to a cost of Rs 6,000 to Rs 9,000 per family for a single dose”. He said in Mohali alone 35,000 doses were sold to private institutions to earn a profit of nearly Rs two crore in a single day.
Stating that it was immoral for the Congress government to make profit from sale of vaccines, Badal said the government was also punishing the people by forcing them to cough up Rs 1560 per dose during a time of economic slowdown. He said by doing so the government had abdicated its responsibility towards public welfare by corporatizing vaccine distribution. “The entire Covid management exercise stands exposed. The government made grandiose promises but delivered nothing. Even neighbouring States are doing door to door vaccination”. He said the government’s decision to make people pay for the vaccines procured by the State also spoke volumes about financial mismanagement with the government having nothing to show for its claim of having spent Rs 1100 crore to combat Covid in the last one year.
Reacting to the decision of Bholath legislator Sukhpal Khaira and two other AAP MLAs Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Pirmal Singh Khalsa to throw in their lot with the Congress party today, Sukhbir Badal said “the cat is out of the bag. This only goes on to show that the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are essentially on the same page. Earlier Sukhpal Khaira, who had contested the 2017 assembly elections on an AAP ticket after leaving the Congress, had formed the Punjab Ekta Party (PEP). Both Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Pirmal Singh Khalsa supported Khaira initially before Manshaia joined the Congress party. Now all three of them are officially in the Congress camp proving AAP and Congress were in an informal alliance in the State”.
The SAD President expressed deep sorrow on the anniversary of the storming of the Sri Darbar Sahib complex by the army on the orders of Indira Gandhi and said it was a matter of abiding pain that not only was the Sri Akal Takth Sahib destroyed but thousands of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj were consigned to flames during the attack. He said it was also a matter of shame that the Gandhi family continued to promote the kin of those who had justified the attack. He said the Gandhi family had given plum posts to Sunil Jakhar and Sukhjinder Randhawa whose fathers Balram Jakhar and Santokh Singh Randhawa had justified Indira Gandhi’s actions.