Prime Minister 'anxious' for Jyoti Basu, offers to fly in docs

KOLKATA, 7th January, 2010(IANS): A "concerned and anxious" Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday visited Marxist patriarch Jyoti Basu, who is in a critical condition at AMRI, Saltlake hospital here, and offered to arrange for any medical expert needed to treat the 96 year-old former chief minister.

The Prime Minister spent 22 minutes at the hospital in Kolkata's satellite township Salt Lake, where Basu is on ventilator support at the intensive cardiac care unit (ICCU) after a pneumonia attack. Basu was admitted on January 1.

Manmohan Singh was accompanied by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. The Prime Minister saw Basu from outside the ICCU and discussed his condition with doctors.

"He told them that if they thought it necessary, he would arrange for any expert doctors from any part of the country," former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee told mediapersons. He said Manmohan Singh also spoke to Basu's son Chandan and extended his best wishes for the ailing leader's speedy recovery. "We are deeply touched by the trouble the prime minister has taken to come and visit our leader," said Chatterjee, an expelled CPI(M) leader.

Union Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi said the Prime Minister was "concerned and anxious" about Jyoti Basu's condition. "Jyoti Basu is very precious. The Government of India is ready to do anything that can be done. It is for the asking of the doctors. The doctors have said if they feel the need, they will definitely put in such a request," said Trivedi.

Chandan Basu said the doctors told the Prime Minister that the hospital had the best of specialists. "I am also satisfied with the treatment. I don't think there is any need to fly in any doctor."

The prime minister had arrived in Kolkata from Delhi in a special aircraft around 12.30 p.m. to visit Basu. After the brief one-and-a-half hour visit to the city, he left from the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) airport for Delhi. Entry was restricted to the hospital ahead of the prime minister's visit and traffic was diverted on nearby roads. Jammers were installed and Special Protection Group (SPG) personnel threw a security cordon around the hospital.

The state government deployed a large number of armed policemen, Special Action Force (SAF) and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel to ensure foolproof security for the prime minister. The doctors too had to undergo security checks before being allowed to enter the hospital on Thursday morning.

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