Supreme Court reiterated our stand on vaccine scarcity, price: Congress

Government ignored our suggestions, the party says.

The Congress on Thursday welcomed the Supreme Court’s observation that the Narendra Modi government’s vaccination policy was “arbitrary and irrational” and claimed that the top court’s order reiterated its position on vaccine shortage, price neutrality and uniformity of distribution.

Addressing a virtual press conference, party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi, pointed out that several leaders, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi, gave valuable suggestions, but the government always responded with “taunts and scorn”.

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He said if the Modi government was a little more flexible and did not adopt an adversarial attitude towards the Opposition parties, the country would not have to pay a heavy price. “There was insult, taunts, scorn, contempt and sarcasm. But not for one minute did you think that had you not had these responses, India would have benefited,” said Mr. Singhvi.

“We, of course, roundly and whole heartedly welcome this comprehensive order [of the top court]. We welcome the interventionist’s proceedings which will set the entire country on a path to immediate and urgent welfare,” he said.

Separately, former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, too, took a dig at Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad after the Health Ministry, on June 1, notified that foreign vaccine companies whose products were being used in countries like the U.S., U.K. and Japan would not have to go through bridging clinical trials after they get emergency approvals.

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In early April, when Mr. Gandhi had written to the Prime Minister to open up India to more vaccine manufacturers by fast-tracking approval processes, Mr. Prasad accused him of “full-time lobbying”.

“Hope Law Minister @rsprasad will now gracefully withdraw his unwarranted remarks, where he accused @RahulGandhi and others of lobbying for foreign pharma companies… The same decision if taken months ago, would have saved many more Indian lives,” Mr. Ramesh tweeted.

In a series of tweets, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, too, complimented the Supreme Court for its observations. “Salute the Supreme Court for a series of directions to the Government in its order dated 2-6-2021. The Government that refused to answer questions posed by the people of the country must now answer the SC. The vaccine policy has been declared by the SC as irrational and arbitrary. Will no one in Government be held responsible?” he asked.

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