Photo-op of Indian politician administering Covid vaccine backfires

Politician defended herself saying she did nursing course when she was in school

Shweta Sharma
Monday 05 July 2021 14:21 BST
Trinamool party councillor Tabassum Ara gives vaccination to a rural woman in Asansol city, West Bengal
Trinamool party councillor Tabassum Ara gives vaccination to a rural woman in Asansol city, West Bengal (Screengrab/ Twitter)
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An Indian politician has become mired in controversy after she was filmed administering the Covid-19 vaccine jab to a woman amid questions over whether she was qualified for the task.

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s regional unit has filed a complaint against West Bengal’s politician Tabassum Ara for administering the Covid jab to a rural woman with no apparent professional qualification to do so, reported The Indian Express.

A show-cause notice was also issued against four people, including Ms Ara, for medical negligence by the state health department. The authorities deployed a medical officer at the house of the woman who got the jab to keep her under observation.

The video of the incident, which has been widely shared on social media, shows the politician taking the syringe from a nurse and injecting a woman with it at a vaccine centre in Asansol city of West Bengal.

The photo-op led to an uproar among politicians and social media users. She was slammed for not only inoculating the woman with no apparent formal medical training but also for not wearing gloves or protective gear.

Ms Ara, who is a councillor for West Bengal’s ruling political party Trinamool Congress (TMC) and outgoing deputy mayor of Asansol, defended herself by saying it was to boost immunisation awareness.

She later claimed she never gave the vaccine but just held the syringe for the photo. She also said she had done a nursing course in school.

“I had done a nursing course when I was in school. Also, I just held the injection, that’s it. The BJP is blowing it out of proportion,” said Ms Ara, accusing the ruling BJP of stirring controversy.

A complaint has been registered by the BJP’s minority cell in Asansol against the politician.

The video comes amid a political battle between Mamata Banerjee-led TMC and Narendra Modi-led BJP where the former is holding onto power in West Bengal state for three consecutive terms. The rivalry continues to widen as BJP is struggling to dislodge the regional party from its stronghold.

BJP politicians mounted pressure on the TMC with singer-turned-politician Babul Supriyo asking chief minister Banerjee if her party member would be held responsible for her actions.

"Seems like TMC govt has no control over its administrators. TMC’s Tabassum Ara, a member of the administrative body of AMC, has vaccinated people herself and risked hundreds of lives... Will her political colour shield her from stern punishment?” he said in a tweet.

BJP president for West Bengal unit Dilip Ghosh said: “In a state where the chief minister knows everything — from Engineering to Medicine — it is in the fitness of things that her party members would also think in the same way. These acts show the real picture of the state.”

TMC politician Sekhar Roy said the matter would be investigated and acknowledged such crucial work should only be performed with prior training and experience.

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