Congress leaders led by Rahul Gandhi on Sunday put up a poster critical of the Prime Minister over COVID vaccine export as their Twitter profile picture and dared the government to arrest them, after police took 25 people into custody for displaying the same poster in several parts of Delhi.
“Arrest me too,” said Gandhi in a tweet while sharing a picture of the Hindi poster which read: “Modi ji, why did you send our children’s vaccines abroad”.
The opposition party said tough questions will be asked of the Prime Minister if people don’t get vaccines, medicines and oxygen and slammed the police action.
The Delhi Police had registered 25 FIRs and arrested as many people for allegedly pasting posters critical of the Prime Minister in connection with the vaccination drive against COVID-19, officials had said on Saturday.
Party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, former union minister P Chidambaram, chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala were among the leaders who changed their Twitter profile picture. The Congress official Twitter handle also displayed the poster.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh dared the Prime Minister and Home Minister to arrest him, saying he was putting up such posters on his compound wall.
“Putting up critical posters against PM is now a crime? Is India run by the Modi Penal Code now? Is the Delhi Police so jobless in the middle of a raging pandemic,” he asked.
“I am putting up posters on my compound wall tomorrow. Come get me,” Ramesh said.
The ruling BJP has accused the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party of spreading misinformation on India’s vaccination programme and said over 84 percent of the vaccine doses sent abroad were part of the commercial and licensing liabilities of the two Indian manufacturers.
Addressing a virtual press conference earlier this week, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra had said 1.07 crore vaccine doses sent abroad were India’s aid to different countries and noted that of those, 78.5 lakh were dispatched to seven neighbouring countries.
A safer neighbourhood is good for India too, he had said.
On Sunday, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said at a press conference that questions will be asked of the Prime Minister if people don’t get vaccines, medicines and oxygen they desperately need to fight COVID.
“I dare you to arrest me. Where is my vaccine, where is my oxygen? We will continue to ask you questions,” he said while alleging that people are being “arrested for asking questions”.
Khera said most of the deaths could have been avoided and people are dying not because of COVID, but due to the mismanagement in handling the pandemic.
He alleged that the government had created man-made shortages and there was chaos all around.
“The Government of India did not manage the crisis well,” he said.
The Congress leader alleged that when it came to negotiating with vaccine manufacturers or putting in place the vaccine policy, everything was “centralised and individualised”.
“PM Modi wanted to be known as a vaccine guru, but now the entire world and every Indian is asking tough questions,” he said.
“You can’t have centralised decision-making and decentralised responsibility,” he said.
“What we witnessed is image management, which is the most unfortunate aspect of this government. It is fatal for the country,” he felt.
On the Centre issuing guidelines in rural areas, Khera said they have come much after the virus has already spread in villages.
“We also get to know the under-preparedness of the government, as the entire preparedness was vested with the Centre under NDMA,” he said.
He said India has successfully implemented immunisation drives in the past and diseases like polio have been eradicated.
“India has achieved immunisation in the past, provided there is a political will. The political will is not there under PM Modi,” he alleged.