Parliament proceedings | Hold China responsible for pandemic: Manish Tewari

Congress MP Manish Tewari, opening the debate in the Lok Sabha on Demand for Grants for the Ministry of Health on Wednesday, demanded that India, as the current head of the executive board of the World Health Organisation (WHO), hold China responsible for spreading coronavirus across the world.

Questioning the pace of vaccination, Mr. Tewari said just 3.5 crore people in the country have so far been vaccinated, while 5.74 crore doses were exported to 72 countries.

He said that many of those who received the first dose were yet to take the second dose and that was a sign the vaccination drive was not progressing properly. “It reflects that the government is giving more importance to its vaccine diplomacy rather than inoculation of its own citizens,” he alleged.

The Lok Sabha member from Punjab was particularly strident about China’s role in the pandemic and said Chinese citizens were locked up in their own cities, but international flights were kept open for the virus to spread.

“India should not be part of the culpability to allow China to go scot-free. As the chair of the WHO executive board, India must take the initiative to order an inquiry so that China, where the virus had originated, could be held responsible for spreading the disease throughout the world,” Mr Tewari said.

While lauding the medical fraternity for its efforts, Mr. Tewari referred to private hospitals overcharging patients as a “sin” and urged the government to bring a law for regulating both private and public hospitals.

The Congress leader also questioned the rationale behind a “drastic lockdown” in the country and wondered if mirco-containment strategy could not have been used..

“Waste of money”

Making a contrarian argument, Sanjeev Kumar Singari, YSR Congress member from Andhra Pradesh and a trained a doctor, argued that ₹35,000 crore earmarked for the vaccination was going to be a waste and should be used to improve primary health infrastructure. “COVID-19 vaccine saves us only for 6-9 months, after that ₹35,000 crore will evaporate,” Mr. Singari said.

JD-U leader Rajiv Ranjan Singh slammed the Congress for “politicising” the pandemic and defended the government’s decision to export vaccines. “Don’t create panic. What you have said will create a fear psychosis. There is no shortage of Indian vaccines. Everyone will get vaccine phase-wise,” Mr. Singh told Mr. Tewari.

Pak. trouble in Punjab

Earlier, Congress’s acting leader in the Lok Sabha Ravneet Singh Bittu urged Speaker Om Birla to resolve the farmers’ issue by convening a meeting of all parties, and alleged that Pakistan was trying to foment trouble in Punjab.

“Earlier, just one drone used to come from across the border. Now, every day 30 to 40 drones are coming with 30 to 40 kg of RDX and other explosives. You have to try to find a solution. Because if there is turmoil again in Punjab, the whole country will suffer,” Mr Bittu said

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