Jyoti Basu contracts pneumonia, hospitalised

KOLKATA, 1st January, 2010(IANS): Nonagenarian Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu was on Friday admitted to a private hospital here with pneumonia.

"A CT scan revealed that he has moderately severe pneumonia," said a top official of the AMRI Hospital (Saltlake), where the 96-year-old leader was admitted on Friday evening.

"He is being given intravenous antibiotics. A series of blood tests have been conducted on him. He is under observation," the official said, adding that Basu was fully conscious. A five-member medical board led by cardiologist A K Maity has been formed for Basu's treatment.

The veteran Marxist leader was brought to the hospital in an ambulance with 'chest congestion and infection'. The communist patriarch was being given normal diet. His further course of treatment would be decided by the board after reviewing Basu's condition on Saturday.

Basu, who was suffering from cough and cold for the last few days, underwent an x-ray at his Salt Lake residence in the afternoon.

A concerned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called up Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee for an update on Basu's condition. A stream of leaders, including West Bengal Left Front Chairman and state CPI(M) Secretary Biman Basu, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and state Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta rushed to the hospital.

Basu, who was chief minister for 23 years, has been ailing for long due to various old-age complications.

He was hospitalised last July following gastro-intestinal complications and transient loss of consciousness. In May last year he injured his left leg after a fall at home. This prevented him from casting his vote in the April-May Lok Sabha poll- the first time in 63 years that he did not vote. Basu also has a clot in the brain from a fall in his bathroom in 2008. In 2007, the veteran leader had cracked a rib after a fall in the bathroom.

Born 1914 in Kolkata, Basu became chief minister in June 1977. He stepped down voluntarily on health grounds in November 2000. One of the founding members of the CPI(M), Basu almost became India's prime minister in 1996 as the head of a coalition government. But the CPI(M) vetoed the proposal.

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