Burdwan/ Alipurduar (WB), Jan 16 (PTI) Several Trinamool Congress leaders, including two MLAs, were among the people who received the COVID-19 vaccine in West Bengal's Purba Bardhaman district on Saturday, while many healthcare workers alleged that they could not get the jab though they were asked to come for it.
District health officials said that these leaders are all associated with different hospitals as members of the Patients' Welfare Committees, making them eligible for the vaccination programme in the first round.
The vaccination drive at the Bhatar State General Hospital began with local TMC MLA Subhash Mondal getting the first shot. Later, former TMC MLA Banamali Hazra, Zilla Parisha Karmadakshya Jahar Bagdi and Bhatar Panchayat Samity Public Health in-charge Mahendra Hazra also received the vaccine.
At Katwa Sub-divisional Hospital, local MLA Rabindranath Chatterjee of TMC was among the 34 people who received the vaccine on the first day.
The Centre is targetting to vaccinate three crore healthcare and frontline workers in the first phase. At a meeting with the chief ministers on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested that public representatives, a reference to politicians, should not be part of this initial exercise.
'This is my personal suggestion and no one should take it otherwise. We public representatives are not part of it,' he had said.
Even as the TMC leaders received the vaccine on the first day, several healthcare workers alleged that though they were asked to come for the jab, they could not get it.
A nurse at the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital said that she was asked to report for the vaccination by 9 am and though she appeared for it on time, she did not get the shot.
Some other nurses at the hospital also levelled similar allegations.
The district's Chief Medical Officer of Health Pranab Roy said that the public representatives who received the vaccines are part of the Patients' Welfare Committees at different hospitals.
'Since they are associated with the hospitals to ensure good services, they are also eligible for the vaccine.
There is nothing irregular in it,' he said.
BJP's district general secretary Ramakrishna Chakraborty said that in the first phase the frontline workers should get the vaccines.
'But the manner in which the TMC leaders queued to get the vaccine, it has gone beyond all bounds of shame. On the other side, the frontline workers had to return home without getting the shot,' he alleged.
Trinamool Congress district spokesperson Prosenjit Das said that there was no wrong with the leaders of his party getting the vaccine because they have all survived COVID-19.
'Officially, those who have survived COVID-19 will be the first to receive the vaccine. So there is no issue of political benefit in it. The BJP does not know the rules. It is their job to complain without knowing the rules,' Das claimed.
In the Alipurduar district, TMC MLA Saurabh Chakrbarty's name was on the top of the list for Covid vaccination. However, he claimed that he was unaware of it.
'I am not taking any vaccine now and I have informed the health department. First, the common people of Alipurduar should get the vaccine and then I will take my shot. I am not aware as I had not applied for any vaccination,' Chakraborty said. PTI CORR BSM SUS SOM SOM