At 2 crore jabs on 1 day, vaccination hits new high but comes with a heavy dose of politics

Our Bureaus New Delhi | Updated on September 18, 2021

Opposition takes exception to BJP’s PM birthday gift remark; NDA States lead, other provinces lag


India’s vaccination hit a new high, with over two crore doses administered on Friday, coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday.

This was the fourth time the jabs had crossed the one crore target the Centre had set itself to cover the entire eligible population by the year end. Till the time of going to press, the count stood at 2.23 crore, even as 34,403 fresh coronavirus cases, and 320 deaths across the country over the last 24 hours.

The mammoth vaccination exercise, however, was not without massive political overtones. A day in advance, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted, “Universal free vaccine is Narendra Modiji’s gift to the nation. Tomorrow is our much beloved PM’s birthday. We should all do vaccine sewa and get our family and community vaccinated as a gift to the PM.”

‘Headline management’

The Opposition called it, “headline management”.

Nevertheless, the ruling BJP pulled out all stops to mark the Prime Minister’s birthday with the highest-ever Covid-19 jabs administered. And the government and party coordinated to align the “national cause” with the PM’s persona. BJP-ruled States clearly scored over the Opposition-run provinces in the administration of vaccine doses.



Karnataka leads

At last count, BJP/NDA-ruled States like Karnataka topped the charts at almost 27 lakh doses, Bihar over 26 lakh, Uttar Pradesh about 25 lakh, Madhya Pradesh close to 24 lakh and the PM’s home-State Gujarat crossing 20 lakh jabs.

In contrast, Opposition States maintained their routine rhythm, with Maharashtra administering almost 12 lakh doses, Kerala and West Bengal doing nearly 4 lakh each, Rajasthan at over 12 lakh doses, Punjab at 1.8 lakh and Tamil Nadu at over two lakh doses.

The BJP and the government had prepared for the big day as part of their three-week celebrations to align the PM’s personal journey with the national cause. Party workers across States had been asked to mobilise people and the government machinery to reach the numbers.

Just as the 2-crore mark was surpassed, a well-prepared Nadda tweeted: “2,00,00,000 mark crossed. This figure is a reflection of New India under PM Narendra Modi’s leadership. India has set a path in successfully fighting Covid with visionary and diligent leadership. Congratulations to those who got vaccinated and those who made this campaign a success.”

In a detailed statement later, Nadda described how BJP workers across States had galvanised the vaccination drive. “Today, crores of our workers are playing their part in Covid vaccination in every nook and corner of the country...,” he said.

Slamming the politicisation of the vaccination process, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shirnate said, “The BJP and its leadership should get full marks for their headline management. India needs vaccination. We have double-vaccinated only 13 per cent of our population. There are 113 nations, who are ahead of us. Why should we wait for this one day to have record vaccination?”

Published on September 17, 2021

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