Amidst the uproar against BJP's announcement of free COVID-19 vaccine for Bihar, where assembly polls begin this week, Union Minister Pratap Sarangi on Sunday said that all people of the country will be given free coronavirus vaccine.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that all people will be provided free of cost vaccines. An estimated Rs 500 odd will be spent on vaccination of each person," PTI quoted Union Minister Sarangi as saying while he was addressing a campaign meeting for the November 3 assembly by-poll in Balasore.
PM Modi, in a televised address to the nation on October 20, had said that Indian scientists are in the process of developing several vaccines that are at different stages of clinical trials and the results seem encouraging.
The BJP's announcement of free COVID vaccine for Bihar had stirred controversy as the Opposition had alleged that the ruling party was using the pandemic for political reasons.
The opposition parties had demanded free vaccine for all people of the country and not only poll-bound Bihar as announced by the BJP.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the announcement was in order as it was an election manifesto announcement.
The governments of Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Puduchchery have already announced free of cost COVID-19 vaccines for the people of their states, while Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has demanded free vaccine for all citizens across the country.
Sarangi, the union minister of state for animal husbandry, dairy, fisheries and micro, small and medium enterprises spoke in reply to a question raised by Odisha Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister, RP Swain.
Swain had earlier sought clarification from two union ministers from Odisha, Dharmendra Pradhan and Sarangi, for their silence on their party BJP's stand on free COVID-19 vaccination for the people of the state along the lines of the one being promised in Bihar.
Swain had tweeted, "I am asking questions to two Odisha union ministers from Balasore soil to clarify as to why the people of the state will not get free of cost COVID vaccine. The union ministers should clarify BJPs stand on the corona vaccination in Odisha."
Swain said the Odisha government has signed an agreement with a vaccine manufacturer and is committed to extending the facility to all people of the state. However, he did not mention whether the government will provide the coronavirus vaccine free of cost to all people of the state.