It is surprising that political parties were surprised that one of them — the Bharatiya Janata Party, as it happens — announced in its manifesto for the Bihar assembly election that it would provide free Covid-19 vaccines to everyone in the state if elected to power. By now they must know that the BJP under Narendra Modi and Amit Shah is an exponent of totalpolitik that stops at nothing to win the next election, big or small. Indeed, the promise of a free vaccine is perhaps among the milder instruments in its political armoury. Moreover, in a country where political parties have promised colour televisions, cable TV connections, bicycles, electric scooters, durable slippers, lunch boxes, sarees, kitchen utensils, cooking oil, rice, electricity, fertilisers, wedding cash gifts, laptops, WiFi, and smartphones with six months of free internet to voters, a free vaccine for everyone against a raging pandemic seems even reasonable.
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