Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan has said that he has written to 11 other non-BJP Chief Ministers to jointly take up the issue of vaccine procurement for all with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Wrote to 11 CMs in the spirit of Cooperative Federalism. Quite unfortunate that Centre absolves itself of its duty to procure vaccines, ensure free universal vaccination. United effort to jointly pursue our genuine demand is the need of the hour, so that Centre acts immediately", the chief minister tweeted alongside the letter.
The letter was addressed to his counterparts in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Odisha, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Delhi.
In the letter, the chief minister blamed the centre for trying to absolve itself of its bounden duty to provide adequate supply of vaccine to the states.
Expressing his concerns about possible third surge of Covid-19 incidents indicated by experts, Vijayan stated, "If the burden of procuring the vaccine is left entirely or even substantially on the states, their fiscal situation would be in dire straits. Fiscal strength of the states is an essential part of a healthy federal set-up."
"If finances of the states are hamstrung, federalism itself will be weakened, and this will not augur well for a democratic polity like ours, he said.
Vijayan emphasised that the vaccine should be provided free of cost considering it as a public good the access to which shall be denied to none due to financial wherewithal.
He asked the Centre to take necessary steps to ensure that intellectual property rights, patent laws and conventions do not stand in the way of manufacturing the Covid-19 vaccine, which should have the status of a public good. He suggested the union government to explore options such as compulsory licensing.
The chief minister said he has had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi before, pointing out the merits of the Centre taking the lead in assessing vaccine requirements of states and floating a global tender by taking into account the needs of all states.
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