Fact Check

Manmohan Singh’s Rich Advices on Vaccination: Statesmanship or Hypocrisy?

Media platforms have been frantically discussing former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s letter to Prime Minister Narenrda Modi along with the reply it has received from the Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.

The Minister in his reply has clearly explained that the same Congress Party which is raising demands for “ramping up” of vaccine production, “vaccinating everyone”, importing vaccine etc. was actually accomplice in sowing doubts about efficacy of vaccines just a couple of months back. These recent demands by the Congress leaders come across as an attempt to undermine the works being undertaken by the Central Government in these unprecedented times.

As the Union Minister has pointed out the role of certain Congress leaders in fuelling vaccine hesitancy, ‘usual suspects’ are dismissing the Minister’s response as “political”.

Nevertheless, the moot question remains: Why did Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Congress Party, which is now asking for a mass vaccination drive and effective results, went on to caste aspersion on the vaccine’s efficacy and safety in the first place?

Let us quickly jog the former Prime Minister’s memory to the recent past:

Congress Now: Vaccinate Everyone; Then: We Doubt Vaccine Efficacy

Now, Congress is claiming that it has come up with the  novel idea that vaccines approved in foreign countries should be immediately given approval for usage in India.

However, back in January 2021, the same Party had questioned the emergency approval of COVAXIN, the made in India vaccine. While leaders like Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari, Anand Sharma feared that the emergency approval for COVAXIN could be dangerous, Congress Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel initially refused to even permit its usage in Chhattisgarh.

There is little confusion on who is doing politics over vaccine and vaccination drive at a time when India becomes fastest country in the world to administer 12 crore doses (92 days).

Unfortunately, Dr. Manmohan Singh, who was silent when his party members were attacking the credibility of vaccines and undermining the work of the science community in these challenging times, is now advising government about how to conduct the vaccination drive; not difficult to decode whether this “advice” is well-meaning “statesmanship” by a former Prime Minister or hypocrisy and empty virtue-signalling by a political party.