New Delhi, April 19, 2021: Former prime minister Manmohan Singh was admitted to AIIMS Delhi on Monday after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, sources said. The veteran Congress leader had recently written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and suggested five measures to battle the COVID-19 crisis, including ramping up vaccination and boosting the supply of medicines.
“The key to our fight against COVID-19 must be ramping up the vaccination effort. We must resist the temptation to look at the absolute numbers being vaccinated, and focus instead on the percentage of the population vaccinated,” he said in his letter.
Noting that India currently has vaccinated only a small fraction of its population, Singh said he is certain that with the right policy design, “we can do much better and very quickly”. “There are many things we must do to fight the epidemic but a big part of this effort must be ramping up the vaccination programme,” he said while making several suggestions.
His letter was slammed by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday who alleged the second wave of the pandemic was instead fuelled by Congress ruled states as they were busy raising doubts about vaccines rather than vaccinating people.
Vardhan said in his letter that “irresponsible” public pronouncements made by some Congress leaders have resulted in a below national average vaccination coverage of senior citizens and even front-line workers in some of the Congress-ruled states. Tweeting the letter to Singh, the health minister said, “History shall be kinder to you Dr Manmohan Singh ji if your offer of ‘constructive cooperation’ and valuable advice was followed by your @INCIndia leaders as well in such extraordinary times!”
With due respect, and “irrespective of the negativity that your party spreads” Vardhan said he takes Singh’s suggestions at face value and with the belief that they are made keeping national interest in mind. “However, it does seem that those who drafted your letter or advised you, have done a great disservice to your standing by misleading you regarding material that is already in public domain,” he said.