Amid global criticism over political campaigns when Covid cases were exploding in the country, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar has offered this justification – “You don’t stop elections in a place like India”. He also describes Covid as a shared problem and a global crisis.
“When a pandemic hits hard there are arguments, questions. People have spoken of elections, we are a democratic country, you don’t stop elections in a place like India,” Mr Jaishankar said.
“The only time we stopped elections was an era … some decades ago … when I was very much younger where none of us really wants to be associated with that kind of memory,” he said, apparently referring to the Emergency of 1975 enforced by the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government.
Political leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addressed hugely-attended rallies as elections were held in five states in March and April, when a deadly second surge hit India. The campaigns continued even when over 3 lakh cases were reported daily and several states reported a shortage of vaccines, oxygen, medicines and hospital beds, which led to more questions about the government’s priorities.
Mr Jaishankar was also asked about critics’ observation that India was exporting vaccines at a time cases were rising, and is now depending on foreign aid.
Speaking at a Global Dialogue Series event, Jaishankar said , “On what basis Covishield was being made in India? It’s the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, you can say it’s a British design product. It is made in India as vaccine owner saw India as an efficient production venue.” While explaining the difference between India’s vaccine production situation from that of US.