Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 23
BJP MPs on Wednesday walked out of a parliamentary committee meeting on Covid-19 vaccine strategy and genome sequencing but returned when panel chairman Jairam Ramesh said he would resign.
The meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science was called to discuss Covid vaccine development and genome sequencing with ICMR chief Balram Bhargava, Principal Scientific Advisor to Prime Minister K Vikay Raghavan and DG CSIR Shekhar Mande in attendance.
There was high drama at the start with BJP members in the panel walking out alleging politicisation of the Covid vaccine strategy.
It was only after panel chairman and Congress veteran Jairam Ramesh said he would resign that the BJP members returned to participate in the proceedings.
Sources said Ramesh made it clear that the meeting agenda was a continuation of past discussions and was scientific.
Ramesh is learnt to have taken exception to BJP MPs walking out “in an attempt to stall the discussions” and declared that he would resign as chairman.
Panel sources said Ramesh even said the panel was free to pass a no confidence vote against him or complain to Rajya Sabha chairman “but the meeting will continue”.
A source said, “The agenda was scientific. Only scientific research departments were called. There were productive discussions for 90 minutes.”
MPs asked questions ranging from India’s genome sequencing capacity in the light of Delta and Delta Plus variant emergence; vaccine procurement and pricing; status of domestic vaccine development considering India relied heavily on domestic production and did not pre order vaccines at risk to ensure timely availability.
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