Sonia goes abroad for surgery

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has gone abroad to undergo a surgery for an undisclosed medical condition, the party said on Thursday. File photo   | Photo Credit: Pavel Rahman

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has gone abroad to undergo a surgery for an undisclosed medical condition, a party spokesperson said here on Thursday.

Her children, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra, have accompanied her, sources in the Congress told The Hindu.

Though no details were made available by the party or family, the fact that Ms. Gandhi has constituted a four-member panel to “manage the day-to-day affairs” of the party in her absence suggests the surgery involved is a major one.

The committee members are Mr. Gandhi, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, her political secretary Ahmed Patel, and party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi.

Party sources stressed that Ms. Gandhi had not appointed Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to the panel, as he would be preoccupied with the monsoon session of Parliament and the Groups of Ministers that he heads.

In a brief written statement, Mr. Dwivedi announced: “Smt Sonia Gandhi has been recently diagnosed with a medical condition that requires surgery. On advice from her doctors, she has travelled abroad, and she is likely to be away for two to three weeks.”

Senior party sources later said they expected her to be out of action for “a month to six weeks.”

The Congress was, however, silent on the details of her medical condition, when she left the country, or indeed where she is being treated, citing privacy and security considerations. “Public personalities are entitled to a certain amount of privacy, especially when it concerns a medical condition,” party spokesperson Manish Tewari told journalists, when pressed for details, making a plea for “sensitivity, circumspection and discretion” in the reportage of the issue.

Though political circles assume she has gone to the U.S., The Hindu has learned that the U.S. embassy in New Delhi was itself making frantic inquiries about her whereabouts with South Block.

According to Tehelka and some other news sites, Ms. Gandhi is being treated at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, but these reports could not be confirmed. The hospital's Public Affairs department to told The Hindu that privacy rules prevented Sloan-Kettering from discussing anything about patients, including whether or not a particular individual was being treated there.

Responding to questions whether the names of the members of the committee indicated the shape of things to come in the party, Mr. Tewari refused to make any comment. But clearly, Ms. Gandhi's condition is serious enough for her to have made a formal announcement of those who will hold charge in her absence: in the past, she has been known to make such arrangements when she has been out of town, but it has always been on an informal basis.

When Ms. Gandhi did not show up for the opening of the monsoon session on Monday, party sources said she was down with a “viral infection.”

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 5:19:21 AM |

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