Who’s who of Indian politics visit Jyoti Basu

Kolkata, Jan 7 (IANS): Many political luminaries, among them Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, winged their way to Kolkata Thursday to look up ailing Marxist veteran Jyoti Basu, in a critical condition at AMRI Hospital following a pneumonia attack.

Manmohan Singh paid a 22-minute visit to the nonagenarian former chief minister, who is on ventilator support at the Salt Lake-based private hospital. The prime minister reached AMRI at around 1 p.m. and headed for the Intensive Cardiac Care Unit (ICCU) where Basu is being treated since Jan 1.

According to Left Front chairman Biman Bose, Manmohan Singh offered all possible support for Basu’s treatment.

This apart, union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee - who accompanied Manmohan Singh during the brief visit, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, West Bengal Governor Devanand Konwar and union Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi visited the hospital to see the Marxist patriarch.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat was there too. Senior CPI-M leaders Brinda Karat, Sitaram Yechury and Shyamal Chakraborty also visited the hospital Thursday.

“We are very concerned about his health and the best is being done to improve his condition,” Prakash Karat told reporters after emerging from the hospital.

Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president Jagmohan Dalmiya also visited the ailing leader.

Security was beefed up in and around the hospital premises. Entry to the hospital was restricted and traffic was diverted on nearby roads.

The state government also deployed a large number of armed policemen, including Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel, to ensure security for the political luminaries.

Thousands of well wishers and party supporters gathered in front of the hospital to enquire about Basu’s health. A number of scribes and camerapersons were also seen anxiously standing outside the main gate of the hospital.

Laxman Ray, a tea kiosk owner who sits opposite to the hospital, said business has been brisk for the last two days.

“My sales have shot up remarkably in the past two days with the snowballing crowds of people coming to see Basu,” Ray said.

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