Special Correspondent

Intervene to "save" AIIMS' autonomy

Arun Jaitley is counsel for Dr. VenugopalVajpayee, Advani drafting a letter to President Anbumani Ramadoss is interfering in AIIMS functioning: BJP

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party is now mired in the ongoing controversy between the President of the governing body of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, Anbumani Ramadoss, and its ousted director P. Venugopal.

While party general secretary Arun Jaitley is now the counsel for Dr. Venugopal, leaders V. K. Malhotra and Sushma Swaraj led a delegation to meet President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam on Thursday, seeking his intervention to "save" the AIIMS' autonomy.

Earlier, the AIIMS impasse figured during an informal party meeting, attended by president Rajnath Singh and Leader of the Opposition L. K. Advani. The leaders decided to seek the President's intervention and also send him a detailed letter on the issues involved.

Party leaders said here on Thursday that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L. K. Advani were drafting a letter to Mr. Kalam, which was likely to be delivered on Friday. The party planned to take up the AIIMS issue in Parliament during the monsoon session.

The BJP's stand is that the Union Health Minister was "interfering" in the AIIMS' functioning, thereby eroding its autonomy.

Humiliated

Mr. Malhotra was critical of the manner in which an eminent doctor was humiliated.

He was referring to the "resolution" adopted by the AIIMS governing body on Wednesday, "dismissing" Dr. Venugopal.

Meanwhile, the BJP convenor of the doctors' cell, Anil Jain, defended doctors' right to strike (they struck work to express solidarity with Dr. Venugopal) even if it translated into suffering for patients.

Mr. Jain blamed the Government for not making alternative arrangements despite knowing that the doctors would resort to a strike.