Several political leaders cutting across party lines have written separate letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing their concern on rising COVID-19 cases and suggesting measures to check the spread of infections, including the need to step up vaccination programme.
Opposition leaders including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, West Bengal Chief Minister (CM) Mamata Banerjee, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, and DMK Chief MK Stalin wrote separate letters to PM Modi on Sunday.
Earlier, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi had written to the prime minister urging him to unlock "vaccination for everyone who needs it", whereas Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray had appealed to him to "press in" the NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) and exploit all options, including airlifting medical oxygen, to improve its availability.
Singh suggested a five-point plan to Modi to curb the surge in COVID-19 cases. The suggested measures comprise:
1. The Centre should place COVID-19 vaccine orders for delivery within the next six months. An adequate number of coronavirus jabs should be procured from vaccine producers to inoculate a significant size of the populace with a time-bound plan of supply.
2. The government should make public the mechanism of how the coronavirus vaccines will be supplied to the states over the next six months. States with a precise understanding of the availability of jabs can devise a smooth rollout of vaccinations. Singh also proposed that the Centre should hold only 10% of the vaccine stock and dispense the rest.
3. The senior Congress leader stated that the states should be permitted the resilience to decide who qualifies as a frontline worker since several states have articulated their desire to do so.
4. He also appealed to the Centre to support vaccine producers, most of whom are from the private sector, by granting funding and required concessions to broaden their manufacturing capabilities.
5. Any COVID-9 vaccine that has been granted nod by government agencies in other nations should be permitted to be imported without insisting on domestic bridging trials.
Banerjee too urged the Centre to allow her government to buy coronavirus vaccine doses directly with state funds and launch a free vaccination drive.
Kejriwal appealed to Indian Railways to facilitate beds in train coaches for COVID-19 patients at Anand Vihar and Shakur Basti stations.
Meanwhile, Stalin urged PM Modi to send 20 lakh vaccine vials to Tamil Nadu.
Thackeray, in a letter written to PM Modi on April 15, had recommended that religious leaders should be asked to abstain from holding large gatherings. He also suggested the extension of timeline for filing the GST returns for MSMEs, permitting the states to use the State Disaster Response Fund, and a 'mini lockdown', among others.
Gandhi had earlier this month written a letter to the prime minister asking the Centre to stop the export of coronavirus vaccines. He also suggested the government to provide income support to vulnerable sections of society and urged Modi to stop holding political rallies and events.