UP 2022: Akhilesh Yadav Says ‘I Won’t Take The Jab’, But There’s No Evidence That It’s Working With His Target ‘Vote Bank’
The SP chief is still not vaccinated and is entering massive crowds with barely any precautions.
Available data as well as anecdotal reports suggest that Yadav’s anti-vaccine stance is not drawing any support from any bloc in Uttar Pradesh.
Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav has, since the beginning of the ‘vaccine debate’ in January this year, added to vaccine hesitancy by his statements and actions. When Covaxin was developed in India, Yadav called it “BJP’s vaccine”. Since then, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister has, on more than one occasion, taken a ‘U-turn’ with regards to his stance on vaccines.
"Won’t Get Jabbed Until PM’s Photo Is Removed"
It was on Thursday (18 November), during the fourth and the final leg of the ‘Samajwadi Vijay Rath Yatra’, that Yadav, amid a crowd of thousands of SP supporters, while speaking to the NDTV journalist Srinivasan Jain, insisted that he will not take the Covid-19 vaccine unless the government removes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photograph from the vaccination certificate and replaces it with the picture of the national flag.
“You have stepped into the elections, there is too much crowd around, and you have not taken the vaccine yet, don’t you feel the risk,” asked the journalist. To this, the SP chief said, “I’ve had Covid, studies say that if a person has gotten infected with the pathogen once, will not get it again soon”.
When the journalist tried to explain to him that he can still get infected by the virus, Yadav said, “I have had Covid, many studies say that those infected once won’t have severe corona, those vaccinated are also getting Covid again. I will get vaccinated the day that the vaccine certificate gets the picture of India’s national flag on it.” He further asked, “has any country in the world got the picture of its prime minister or president printed on their vaccine certificate, be it in America, in Europe, our neighbour China, or in Russia?”
The journalist kept on trying to convince Yadav that as he is setting a wrong precedent by not getting vaccinated and it could risk many lives as he will be addressing and interacting with a large number of people in the run-up to the elections, but in turn he accused the journalist of ignoring scientific studies and disregarded facts presented to him about the efficacy of vaccines.
Akhilesh Yadav And U-Turns
In January 2021, the SP chief triggered a major furore by dubbing the India-made vaccine as “BJP’s vaccine” and said that he won’t get vaccinated as he does not trust it. Following Yadav’s statement, many SP members and supporters refused to take the vaccine shot. The BJP criticised Yadav saying that his remarks were a disrespect to the efforts of the scientists and frontline workers, who have been working day and night to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Later in June, Yadav took a diametrically opposite stance and said “we were against the ‘BJP's vaccine’, though we welcome the vaccine of 'Government of India', we will get inoculated and will also appeal to those who could not get jabbed due to lack of vaccines.” Akhilesh Yadav’s reaction in favour of the ‘Government of India- vaccine’ came a day after the picture of his own father Mulayam Singh Yadav getting vaccinated went viral on the Internet.
Is His Target Even Listening?
Many UP-watchers agree that Akhilesh Yadav’s ‘anti-vaccine stance’ is in fact signalling to his targeted vote bank, of the Muslims.
Earlier in the year, there were videos of Muslim clerics preaching anti-vaccine propaganda.
Interestingly, there is no authoritative evidence which suggests that Yadav’s ‘signalling’ to his target vote bank is working. As per the official website of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, at the time of writing, Uttar Pradesh was leading the vaccination tally with 15 crore doses already administered, and counting. Uttar Pradesh’s total population is estimated around 23 crore.
People irrespective of their religion have been seen standing in long queues in hospitals, waiting eagerly to get vaccinated, and get protection from the severe Covid-19 infection. Despite all sorts of socio-political and religious anti-vaccine propaganda being fed to them, almost all have overcome the vaccine hesitancy and are getting inoculated in large numbers.
However, the SP chief is still not vaccinated and is entering massive crowds with barely any precautions. Available data as well as anecdotal reports suggest that Yadav’s anti-vaccine stance is not drawing any support from any bloc in Uttar Pradesh. Yadav is risking his health, and for what?
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