Mamata Banerjee: Bengal govt would like to distribute COVID-19 vaccine

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said that the state government is willing to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine when it is ready to be used in the coming days. Banerjee is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a virtual meeting on Tuesday, that primarily focuses on the COVID-19 vaccine.

At a meeting in Bankura district, where Banerjee is staying for three days for various administrative and political meetings, she said that the Centre can give the states directions on the use of the vaccine.

Banerjee is expected to take up this argument in her meeting with Modi tomorrow. The Bengal CM perhaps wanted to make the issue public anticipating that the BJP might make a similar promise on free COVID vaccines it had made in Bihar prior to the state elections held there. Ahead of the Assembly elections of 2021 in West Bengal, Banerjee would perhaps want to prevent any attempt by the BJP to use this promise to get support and votes.

In Bihar, the BJP had promised free COVID vaccines for the state’s people if the party is voted to power. Amid criticism from the Opposition, the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had released the party’s manifesto for Bihar that highlighted free COVID vaccines for the people of the state.

On Monday, Banerjee said that the state government is already spending crores of rupees on free treatment of COVID-19 patients in hospitals and quarantine homes, and if given directions, the state can also take the initiative in the implementation of the vaccine in the coming days.