Manmohan’s heart surgery Saturday, Pranab may officiate (Intro Roundup)

January 23rd, 2009 - 8:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Jan 23 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will Saturday undergo a bypass surgery that is expected to keep him out of work for up to four weeks, official sources said Friday. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, given the additional charge of the finance ministry, is likely to discharge his duties in his absence.The surgery would be conducted by well-known cardio-thoracic surgeon Ramakant Panda, vice-chairman of the Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai, at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here. Doctors said they would prefer a “less risky” beating heart surgery rather than a bypass surgery.

“The general mood is for beating heart surgery. But no decision has been taken so far. Most tests have been done,” K. Srinath Reddy, chairman of the prime minister’s medical panel, told IANS.

Beating heart surgery is a way to perform surgery without stopping the heart beat. Surgeons stabilize that part of the heart which they operate. Surgery on a beating heart is said to reduce the risk of complications. The recovery is also said to be quicker.

Manmohan Singh, discharged from AIIMS Thursday following an angiography a day earlier, was re-admitted Friday after he felt uneasy at his 7 Race Course Road residence in the morning. He is at the Intensive Cardiac Care Unit (ICCU).

Politicians cutting across party lines wished Manmohan Singh a speedy recovery. “We have been worried for him,” said L.K. Advani of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Communist Party of India’s D. Raja added: “I am slightly concerned about it. I wish things go well.”

Tests over two days revealed that the 76-year-old, who became prime minister in May 2004 heading a Congress-led government, had multiple arterial blockages.

Following his angiography on Wednesday, doctors made it clear that the prime minister did not face any medical emergency. He himself said he felt no discomfort while the tests were carried out.

Even at this age, Manmohan Singh keeps himself fit doing yoga, is conscious of his diet and packs a punishing 18-hour work schedule despite having undergone a bypass surgery 18 years ago.

“The prime minister could have carried on for a few more days but his family felt the surgery should happen at the earliest,” a senior official told IANS.

Experts said the prime minister would need to rest for at least two to four weeks after Saturday’s surgery.

Manmohan Singh underwent a bypass surgery in Britain in 1991. In 2004 he had an angioplasty to open clogged arteries. He had a prostate surgery in 2007 and underwent a cataract operation last year.

With Manmohan Singh getting hospitalised, the government decided Friday that his ceremonial role on the Republic Day Monday will be discharged by Vice President Hamid Ansari. Ansari would place a wreath at the memorial to the unknown soldier.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh admitted that there was concern over the health of Manmohan Singh, whose six-year term in the Rajya Sabha expires in May 2013. “We are concerned about the prime minister’s health.”

Pranab Mukherjee, who has just returned from Afghanistan, will officiate in Manmohan Singh’s absence, official sources said. On Friday he was given the additional charge of the finance ministry, now with Manmohan Singh.

Mukherjee said he discussed Manmohan Singh’s illness and “certain other matters” with Congress president Sonia Gandhi earlier Friday. But he declined to say if he would take on the prime minister’s responsibilities.

“He is going for his treatment. We don’t know how long it will take, what will happen,” he said.

Mukherjee, the seniormost member of the cabinet, would chair cabinet meetings in Manmohan Singh’s place. He is the leader of the house in the Lok Sabha. He also heads the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs and the Cabinet Committee on Security.

In the past, he has held fort when the prime minister has gone abroad.

Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari also avoided saying who will officiate the country’s affairs in Manmohan Singh’s absence.

“Give India’s pre-eminent position, it is extremely unnecessary to second guess on an issue like this. Let us wait for an official announcement,” he told reporters.

Now that he will also hold the finance portfolio, Mukherjee will present the vote on account that sanctions pre-budget government expenditure Feb 16. This will need the parliament’s approval to finance government expenditure and pay the salaries of its employees till the next regular budget is presented after the general elections expected in April-May.

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