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From Race Course Road to the ICU

January 23, 2009 20:38 IST
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will undergo heart surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi on Saturday.

Here is how the day unfolded for the prime minister -- From his home on Race Course Road to the Intensive Care Unit at AIIMS.

0730 to 0930 hours: Dr Singh was feeling comfortable. As is the routine, he reads some newspapers. He also speaks to his second daughter Daman in the morning and gets his daily briefing from officials.

1100 hours: Routine check-up by three doctors finds all parameters okay. They tell Dr Singh that his surgery can wait if he wishes to attend the Republic Day parade, but then advise the prime minister not to strain himself.

1120 hours: Dr Singh suddenly feels uncomfortable and complains of uneasiness. Doctors check again and find a slight swelling in the blood vein, which they attribute to stress and a drug reaction. They panic and decide to immediately shift him to the ICU at AIIMS.

1130 hours: The prime minister calls Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar and National Security Advisor M K Narayanan to coordinate and assist in completion of the Republic Day parade.

Narayanan at once calls up N Ravi, Secretary, East, at the ministry of external affairs, to brief President Pratibha Patil about protocol-related issues and to lead the Indian delegation-level talks with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The venue for the talks is shifted from Hyderabad House to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Dr Singh tells the Cabinet Secretary to amend the business rules to get External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to deal with the finance ministry's affairs. Chandrasekhar then calls up Financial Services Secretary Arun Ramanathan to brief Mukherjee on preparations on the Vote-on-Account plus business-level talks with Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev, chief guest at this year's Republic Day parade.

1200 hours: Dr Singh calls for the files and signs the necessary orders, including one appointing Mukherjee to officiate on his behalf.

1230 hours: The two kilometre road from Race Course Road to AIIMS is cleared of traffic for the prime minister's convoy. The departure gets delayed as astrologers say there is a solar eclipse on Janaury 26 between 1230 and 1500 hours and hence, Dr Singh should not leave without performing a pooja (prayer ceremony).

1330 hours: After performing the pooja, the prime minister gets into his car. Just then Congress President Sonia Gandhi rings up and speaks to Dr Singh's wife Gursharan Kaur.

1340 hours: Dr Singh arrives at AIIMS, where he is received by Health Minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss and senior officials of the Special Protection Group. He is taken in a wheelchair straight to the ICU. Dr Singh is conscious and smiles at his wife as he is being wheeled into the ICU.

1400 hours: Dr Ramakanta Panda, who is attached to the Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai, and the prime minister's personal physician Dr K Srinath Reddy, who is also a cardiac specialist, lead a team of doctors who examine Dr Singh. They decide to carry out the by-pass surgery on Saturday.

1500 hours: Cabinet Secretary Chandrasekhar issues internal orders of the change of the business and service rules pertaining to the finance ministry. He also directs Defence Secretary Vijay Singh to meet Vice President Hamid Ansari about protocol issues during the Republic Day parade.

1700 hours: Vice-President Ansari distributes the bravery awards instead of the prime minister at Teen Murti Bhavan in New Delhi.

1900 hours: At 10, Janpath, her home, Sonia Gandhi chairs the Congress party's core committee meeting that sends a get well message to the prime minister.
A Correspondent in New Delhi