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Kolkata (West Bengal): The incumbent West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday declared the journalists as COVID warriors while urging the Centre for free universal vaccination across the country.

Briefing the media persons, the chief minister said, "I declare all the journalists as COVID warrior. You work taking your lives at risk. We have lost so many journalists due to COVID. The COVID management is my priority. There is a shortage of vaccine supply. Approximately 65 per cent of vaccines being produced in India were already sent overseas. Still, we are vaccinating 50,000 people a day. Till now, we have administered more than 1.5 crore vaccine doses."

Mamata said the Centre should provide the COVID vaccine for free to every citizen.

"We have demanded 3 crore vaccine doses from the Centre. I feel the vaccine should be provided free to the 140 crore people of India. I request the Centre to sanction 30,000 crore for a vaccine program for all throughout the country. I believe 30,000 crore does not matter to the central government. If a portion of the money that they spent in the election was invested for COVID vaccine then the universal vaccination would have already been done," she stated.

She further alleged that the central government is doing partiality in sending COVID vaccines and medical oxygen.

"I got to know that they are sending maximum vaccine and oxygen to 2-3 states. I believe every state should get them in priority. In Gujarat, the vaccine is provided at BJP party offices," she said.

Asked about whether she is looking forward to the national politics considering the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Mamata said, "I am a street fighter. It will be a collective effort. I am in touch with other political parties for a united battle. But, first, my priority is to fight the COVID situation. Chief Minister, Prime Minister...nothing matters. It is the people that matter."

The chief minister said the oath-taking ceremony will be held on low profile keeping the pandemic in mind. She also informed several party leaders have wished her for the landslide victory.

"Arvind Kejriwal, Uddhav Thackeray, Captain Amarinder Singh, Bhupinder Singh Hooda ji, Rajnikanth ji, Omar Abdullah and others called and wished me. The people of Bengal have stopped the destructive force," Mamata said.

Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress won 213 seats in the just concluded West Bengal assembly elections. The Bharatiya Janata Party garnered 77 seats in the 294-seat state assembly. However, elections for two seats in Murshidabad are postponed due to the demise of candidates due to COVID.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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