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Patient PM avoids strike hospital

New Delhi, May 28: The Prime Minister was to get up close and personal with the striking doctors today. But at the last moment, he thought better of it.

Instead of going to the premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences for surgery on his left wrist ' which is what he had done for a similar operation last year ' Manmohan Singh chose the Army’s Research and Referral (R&R) hospital.

“The operation on the left wrist follows a similar procedure on his right wrist on October 13, 2005. This completes the procedure advised by doctors to relieve pressure on a nerve near both wrists,” the Prime Minister’s media adviser, Sanjaya Baru, said.

AIIMS faculty members felt the Prime Minister’s decision to avoid the institute was a “direct” result of the anti-quota agitation on its campus.

Singh’s aides had sounded out the faculty on the possibility of any unpleasantness after the surgery was scheduled at AIIMS. Officially the faculty association said there would be no trouble but opinion was divided, so the Prime Minister took no chances. “He would not have wanted a scene,” a senior faculty member explained.

“Unlike other protesters, the doctors are a privileged lot. They are sitting on the lawns where you are otherwise not allowed even to walk. They would definitely have come to know that the Prime Minister was coming here. A confrontation was inevitable.”

Although the Prime Minister chose R&R for the operation, he still summoned his surgeon from AIIMS. Dr P.P. Kotwal, a professor of orthopaedics who had done the same surgery on his right wrist last year, went to the army hospital and performed the carpal tunnel procedure.

The Prime Minister suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition in which nerves get compressed as they pass through the wrist along a passage called the carpal tunnel.

The symptoms include pain, tingling and numbness in the index and middle fingers. It happens generally to those who use their fingers for repetitive movements, such as on the typewriter or the computer keyboard. A minor operation de-compresses the nerves.

Singh was discharged after the surgery. Baru said the Prime Minister would work from home for the next two days. He is expected to be back in office on Wednesday.

Govt promise

The government today committed to students in writing that it would examine the demand for an independent committee to review the reservation policy. An assurance was given that seats would be increased from the 2007-08 session.

The medicos rejected the offer, saying a final decision on the strike would be taken later.

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