Friday, 5 August 2011

Sonia Ghandi goes abroad for surgery, Rahul steps up

Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi, 64, underwent surgery for an unspecified condition in the US.
NEW DELHI: Sonia Gandhi has been operated upon abroad on Thursday for an undisclosed ailment. She will be away for 2-3 weeks, and the responsibility of overseeing the affairs of the Congress party in her absence has been assigned to a four-member group that includes Rahul Gandhi. The move is being read in political circles as formal recognition of the growing stature of the Amethi MP who has so far consciously kept a low profile.

It is learnt that the surgery has been successful. Sonia, accompanied by Rahul and Priyanka, is learnt to have left on Tuesday. Her destination has been kept a secret because of the concerns of the Special Protection Group that guards her.

TV channels and media websites reported that the Congress president had been operated at New York`s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, but sources told TOI that she was not in the American city. The hospital would not confirm her presence. (Pre-eminent cancer specialist Dr Dattatreyudu Nori is the director of the Cancer Center and professor and chairman of the radiation oncology department. A graduate of Kurnool Medical College in Andhra Pradesh, Dr Nori was once named one of the top doctors in America for the treatment of cancers in women by the popular women`s magazine `The Ladies Home Journal`.)

Sources said Sonia was advised by her doctors to go abroad for the surgery because they felt she would convalesce better without the throng of visitors who would have clamoured to see her during the recovery. The inconvenience her presence in a hospital would have caused to other patients was another consideration.

"Shrimati Sonia Gandhi has been recently diagnosed with a medical condition that requires surgery. On advice from her doctors, she has travelled abroad and is likely to be away for two to three weeks", Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said in a statement.

Congress leaders refused to divulge details of party president`s ailment although there are indications that the medical bulletin to be issued on Friday may contain some details.

Before leaving for the surgery, Sonia tasked Rahul and three others with the responsibility of looking after the day-to-day affairs of the party. Other members of the group are defence minister A K Antony, Congress general secretary Dwivedi and Sonia`s political secretary Ahmed Patel. Patel and Antony are among Sonia`s most trusted confidants, while Dwivedi is the general secretary in charge of the organization.

While the Congress has long been keen to elevate Rahul, his inclusion in the elite group holding fort in Sonia`s absence is seen as an indication of his own readiness to shoulder bigger responsibilities. It comes close on the heels of rural development minister Jairam Ramesh`s public acknowledgement that Rahul`s views have been a major influence on the government`s new land acquisition policy.


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