New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma Sunday went against the party line and welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-city tour to review the Covid-19 vaccine development.
PM Modi had visited Zydus Cadila’s plant near Ahmedabad, Bharat Biotech’s facility in Hyderabad and Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune to review the Covid-19 vaccine development work there.
Sharma, the deputy leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha and former Union minister, called it a move that will “lift the morale of frontline warriors and reassure the nation”.
Prime minister Shri Narendra Modi visit to Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadilla was a recognition of Indian scientists and their work to produce the vaccine for COVID-19 That alone will lift morale of frontline warriors and reassure the nation.
— Anand Sharma (@AnandSharmaINC) November 29, 2020
“Prime minister Shri Narendra Modi visit to Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadilla was a recognition of Indian scientists and their work to produce the vaccine for COVID-19 That alone will lift morale of frontline warriors and reassure the nation (sic),” Sharma tweeted.
“Also respecting the Institutions that India has built over decades that have expertise and potential making India worlds (sic) largest vaccine manufacturer,” he added.
Congress’ official line
Sharma’s statement stood in stark contrast to the Congress party’s official line — the previous day, it had termed PM Modi’s visit a way to seek “publicity”.
In a press conference Saturday, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera had attacked the PM’s visits, saying he should be holding meetings to strategise how the vaccine will be allocated, instead of seeking publicity.
Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala too had tweeted Saturday, taking a jibe at PM Modi’s tour while farmers protest on the streets.
मोदी जी कम्पनियों के दफ़्तर जा फ़ोटो खिंचा रहे हैं और लाखों किसान दिल्ली के सड़कों पर कराह रहे हैं।
काश! PM जहाज़ की बजाय ज़मीन पर किसान से बात करते।
कोरोना वैक्सीन साइंटिस्ट और शौधकर्ता ढूंढेंगे,
देश का पेट किसान पालेंगे,
मोदी जी तथा भाजपाई टेलिविज़न सम्भालेंगे ! pic.twitter.com/OHnMkNKSEt
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) November 28, 2020
“Modi ji is going to company offices and getting pictures clicked, while lakhs of farmers are on the streets of Delhi,” Surjewala wrote. “Scientists will find the corona vaccine, farmers will take care of the country’s hunger, while Modi ji and the BJP will handle TV!”
Sharma’s previous dissent
Sharma’s statement against the official party line is also significant because just last week, he had hit out at those in the Congress who slammed “dissenters”, and called for “decency and decorum” to be maintained.
The former Union minister was one of the 23 leaders who had, in August this year, written a letter to interim party president Sonia Gandhi calling for a “full-time and effective leadership”.
Last week, he also defended the leaders who signed the letter, as well as those who have been calling for introspection by the party in the aftermath of the Congress’ poor showing in the Bihar assembly elections.
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