Top Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s latest criticism of the centre’s COVID-19 vaccination policy, especially over online registration, was met with a sharp rebuttal from Union Minister Smriti Irani.
Mr Gandhi had demanded that every person walking into a vaccination centre should get the jab, saying “those who do not have access to internet also have the right to life”.
“Online registration is not enough for the vaccine. Every person walking in at a vaccination centre should get the vaccine. Those who do not have access to internet also have the right to life,” he said in a tweet in Hindi on Thursday morning.
Two hours later, Ms Irani, who defeated Mr Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh’s Raebareli in the 2019 nation election, hit back with a verse by 15th century mystic poet Kabir Das.
“Boye ped babul ka, so aam kaha se hoye (You have sown seeds for acacia tree, don’t expect mangoes from that),” she quoted Kabir.
“Those who understand must have understood. The central government has already given approval to states for walk-in registration. Don’t spread confusion, get vaccinated,” she tweeted in Hindi, along with screenshots of news reports on walk-in registrations.
The centre had issued a notification last month, saying people in the 18-44 age group, who are “without access to internet or smart phones”, can walk-in for help to register on the CoWIN digital platform, and get appointments to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
It also said it will allow same-day walk-in registration and vaccination of “a few beneficiaries” in the 18-44 group, if doses meant for those who had pre-registered were left unused at the end of the day. This will minimise vaccine wastage, the centre said.
Rahul Gandhi, who has been fiercely critical of the centre’s handling of the pandemic and the vaccination policy, has maintained that the second wave would not have been so deadly had the government ensured easy access to vaccines.