Maharashtra Minister stirs the pot on alleged threats to Serum chief

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on June 07, 2021

Hasan Mushrif alleges Poonawalla was forced to flee as he got threats from the Centre for promising 1.5 crore vaccine doses supply to the State.

Even as the Prime Minister announced free Covid vaccine jabs for all above 18 years, the controversy surrounding vaccines refuses to die down in Maharashtra.

State Minister for Rural Development, Hasan Mushrif, has alleged that Serum Institute, CEO, Adar Poonawalla was forced to flee the country as he received threats from the Centre for promising to supply 1.5 crore vaccine doses to Maharashtra.

Addressing the media persons at Ahmednagar, Mushrif said Poonawalla is a good friend of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, and he had promised to provide 1.5 crore doses to the state. However, following the threats by the Centre, the proposal to give vaccines was stalled.

Commenting on the development, writer and political analyst Nilu Damle said that the Modi Government had been fully engrossed in vaccine politics. The entire distribution chain of vaccines is fully controlled by the PMO, which has also been red-flagged by the vaccine makers.

There is no central and unified body similar to a GST Council, which deals with vaccine distribution. The revenue collected under GST gets decided by the states at the national level. The State Governments have a say in the GST matter, but in vaccine matters, the states have become like a "Banana Republic", he said.

Damle said that vaccination policy and vaccine distribution should have been fully transparent and placed in the public domain. Instead, the Centre’s opaque methods leave room for doubt.

On the other hand, Nagesh Kesari said that Mushrif is not holding the portfolio of the Health Department, neither is he a very senior leader to be taken seriously. If his party chief, Sharad Pawar, would have made any statement about Adar Poonawala, people would have noted.

Kesari pointed out that even at the Centre, none of the Ministers will take Mushrif’s statement very seriously. He is not a leader with any significant mass base. His politics is only confined to a particular area of the Kolhapur district. For local political exigencies sometimes, Ministers in Maharashtra make such comments. If Mushrif’s senior colleagues, such as Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar or Health Minister, Rajesh Tope would have commented, it would have been a different matter.

With agency inputs.

Published on June 07, 2021

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