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The Bihar BJP manifesto promises a free COVID-19 vaccine.

Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitarman announced the free COVID-19 vaccine for Bihar's people while releasing the BJP's state manifesto for Bihar.

Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitarman announced the free COVID-19 vaccine for Bihar's people while releasing the BJP's state manifesto for Bihar. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its party manifesto for the Assembly polls in Bihar on Oct 22, 2020. The party's first promise in their manifesto was the distribution of the COVID -19 vaccine for free. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who released the manifesto in Patna, said that Bihar will get a vaccine, approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), free of cost and also 19 lakh jobs for the youth of the state.

The announcement drew flak from the opposition parties, who sought action from the Election Commission (EC) while alleging that the ruling party was using the pandemic for political gains. Manoj Kumar Jha, Rajya Sabha member of RJD said that he was in shock. He added that ‘If promising a vaccine for a pandemic is part of an election manifesto, it shows the level of deterioration in their (BJP’s) thinking’.

Defending its announcement, the BJP said, it’s a pledge on a public health issue and public health is a state subject. Speaking to the Indian Express, the BJP general secretary in-charge of Bihar said that he did not understand why it is becoming controversial. ‘Health is a part of public policy, and all political parties make promises on public policies. Just like some parties are promising farm loan waiver, we promise to keep the people in Bihar safe,’ he said.

Releasing the party manifesto Sitharaman said that ‘after crossing all the stages, there are at least three vaccines that have reached the last stage, and are on the cusp of production. After this, if scientific people say this vaccine is fine, production can take place. Our production capacity, because of the government’s intervention, is very large.’

She further said that ‘when the clearance comes from scientists, our vaccine production will be at such a level that what we are promising, everyone in Bihar will get a free vaccine’.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.

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