Hardeep Singh Puri, Shashi Tharoor indulge in war of words over COVID-19 vaccine policy
New Delhi, May 13: Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor sparred on Twitter, with the BJP leader accusing Congress leaders of fuelling vaccine hesitancy and Tharoor hitting back, saying when will the Centre take responsibility for its "manifest failures" of policy rather than pointing fingers at the Opposition.
Puri, in a series of tweets on Wednesday, said some of Congress leaders like Shashi Tharoor are betraying an almost "childish stubbornness" in admitting their fault about India's vaccine policy.
"The Congress party's narrative on the vaccines is getting increasingly bizarre by the day," Puri said. "Some of their leaders like Shashi Tharoor, to name one, are betraying an almost childish stubbornness in admitting their fault about India's vaccine policy," the civil aviation, and housing and urban affairs minister said.
The entire pack through statements and tweets fuelled vaccine hesitancy, Puri alleged. They openly cast doubts about vaccine efficacy, choice of manufacturers and roll-out to sow doubts in the minds of people, he said. "Mr Tharoor's tweets of 2021 alone would qualify for a book on self-contradictions," Puri said.
"After consistently airing doubts on vaccine efficacy, he has made a turnaround on 28 April 2021, but not without pointing out that he wasn't wrong about being wrong!" the Union minister said.
"Imagine the situation if GoI had heeded his 'advice' & waited till two weeks back to start vaccine production," he said in another tweet. Now, when the nation is battling COVID, instead of running with the hare and hunting with the hound, as the opportunity suits them, these leaders can, if they cannot join the nation in its fight, spend time to study their own statements and tweets to see where they went wrong, Puri said.
Tagging one of Puri's tweets, Tharoor said on Thursday, "Let me keep it simple: 1. Is the vaccine shortage because of Congress' tweets? 2. Did GOI fail to order enough vaccines because of my tweets? 3. Is differential pricing in May the result of my pointing out on Jan 3 that that Phase 3 trials of Covaxin were not complete?".
In short, when will the BJP government take responsibility for its "manifest failures of policy and management" rather than pointing fingers at the Opposition in a vain attempt to divert attention from its own poor performance, the Congress leader asked on Twitter.
The war of words between the two leaders comes amid the Congress-BJP duel over the vaccine policy, with the Opposition party alleging that the government had failed to come up with a sound vaccination policy while the ruling dispensation accusing the Opposition of politicising the issue of vaccines.