Politics over vaccination camps in Ludhiana: Congress, AAP slug it out – The Indian Express

As the free Covid vaccination opened for persons with comorbidities and families of healthcare workers from 18-44 age group in Punjab Friday, the politicking over vaccination also started in district Ludhiana, ahead of Punjab Assembly polls scheduled next year.

As many as 24 vaccination camps were held across the city in local government schools following the CM’s orders that government hospitals and health centres should be decongested and vaccination should instead be done at other spacious buildings to keep beneficiaries away from getting infected and maintain social distancing.

However, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) accused local Congress councilors of using their ‘political power’ to hold ‘vaccination camps in their areas’, ‘taking credit and scoring brownie points during pandemic’ and also claimed that AAP workers were ‘stopped’ from entering one such camp in ward number 80.

AAP also said that Congress councilors were using their ‘photographs’ on the posters of vaccination camps and claiming credit for organising the camps to misguide people.

On the other hand, Congress councilors said that instead of politicking and mudslinging during pandemic, AAP workers should come out of their houses and help in serving the people. Congress councilors said that even people from other opposition parties such as SAD-BJP were cooperating at this hour but AAP, instead of doing some work at the grassroots or helping in getting maximum people jabbed, was instead getting involved in mudslinging.

AAP Punjab spokesperson Ahbaab Singh Grewal said that Covid vaccination drive was being politicized by the Congress. “Congress is using pandemic to score brownie points. On one hand they say that there is scarcity of Covid vaccines and people are being turned away from government health centres and on the other hand, camps are being held in the areas of Congress councilors in Ludhiana. While common people are running from pillar to post to get vaccines, Congress councilors are getting vaccines to hold camps in their areas and claim credit. They are using their political power to corner limited vaccine supplies for people in their areas while common people are suffering. We visited the government health centre in Jawaddi where we were told that there were no vaccines whereas a camp was underway at government school in ward number 80 from where Congress councilor is Maharaj Singh Raji who has even used his photograph on the camp’s poster,” alleged Grewal.

AAP said that Congress councilors have ‘gone to an extent of stopping AAP workers from entering their camps’ whereas they should be open for all irrespective of their political affiliations.

“Our workers were stopped from entering one such camp today at Government school in Haibowal Kalan in ward number 80. Such politicization of life saving vaccine is unacceptable,” said AAP state joint secretary Aman Mohi.

Raji said, “More than 200 persons with comorbidities were vaccinated today in our camp at government school in Haibowal and we made all arrangements for health department staff because there had to be proper social distancing, food, water, observation room and parking arrangement. The local government health centre is too congested so a school building was chosen so that infection is not spread. If councilors will not participate and help in this hour, who else will? Had I not informed people about vaccination in our area today through my social media account and posters, how would they have got to know? Also, today’s camp was only for persons with comorbidities and families of healthcare workers. Had we not made people understood this, there would have been queues of people right in the morning and it would have instead spread the infection. Our camp is always open for all and AAP workers should first come out of their homes, do sewa and then do this dirty politics. We got so many calls today even from families whose children were not comorbid and they all were refused…”

Manpreet Singh Grewal, Congress councilor of ward number 88, in whose area a camp was held at a government school in Sekhewal said, “Even BJP and SAD leaders visited our camp today and asked if we needed any help. They enquired if everything was going fine. The school was chosen because we needed at least five rooms — for registration, vaccination, observation and waiting room. Had the camp been held in local government dispensary, it would have been a nightmare in just two small rooms. Before making such cheap comments, AAP workers should work on ground and help people.”

when contacted Dr Kiran Ahluwalia Gill, civil surgeon, Ludhiana said that it was only after orders from Punjab government that vaccination venues have been shifted out from government hospitals/health centres to control spread of Covid.

“Schools are the best venues because we also get computers, internet, spacious rooms and other facilities. They are public camps and anyone can bring beneficiaries and motivate them to get jabbed. We have divided Ludhiana district into 9 zones and SMOs decide areas of camps in coordination with district immunization officer as per number of doses available each day,” she said.

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