Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday drew criticism after one of his relatives, who is reportedly in his 20s, received the Covid-19 vaccine, even though he does not fulfil the current age criteria to get the shot.
At present, only beneficiaries above the age of 45, along with healthcare and other frontline workers are eligible to get the vaccine. The inoculation programme will be widened to include those over 18 from May 1.
The controversy erupted on Monday after photographs of Tanmay Fadnavis getting himself vaccinated at a centre in Maharashtra went viral on social media. He is reportedly Devendra Fadnavis’ nephew and the grandson of Shobatai Fadnavis, a senior BJP leader and former minister.
Tanmay Fadnavis took the vaccine dose at the National Cancer Institute in Nagpur, according to PTI, and posted a photo of the moment on his Instagram.
The picture was later deleted, but social media users had already taken screenshots of the post. Several users accused Devendra Fadnavis of using his power and position to circumvent the vaccination rules. Some called it a classic case of nepotism.
The Congress, which is a part of the ruling alliance in Maharashtra, too criticised Devendra Fadnavis. “The Modi government has made it a condition to vaccinate only people above 45 years of age,” the party’s Maharashtra unit tweeted. “In such a situation, how can Fadnavis’s nephew who is less than 45 years of age get vaccinated?”
The Congress added that the lives of BJP leaders’ families were more important. “So what are the other people? Isn’t their life worth anything,” the party said.
Amid the outrage, the office of the former Maharashtra chief minister on Tuesday issued a statement, seeking to distance himself from the matter, reported PTI.
“Tanmay Fadnavis is my distant relative,” Devendra Fadnavis said. “I have no idea under which criteria he received his dose. If it has been taken as per guidelines, then there should be no objection. But if it is in violation of guidelines, it is completely improper.”
The BJP leader added that even his wife and daughter are yet to receive the vaccine as they do not fulfill the criteria. “Although all above the age of 18 years can take vaccine [from May 1], all should follow the rules,” the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly said.
Devendra Fadnavis is also embroiled in another controversy relating to the procurement of antiviral drug remdesivir in Maharashtra.