The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Debate over Shekhawat health tour

New Delhi, Oct. 20: Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat will leave for the US for a health check-up.

“Bhairon Baba”, as he is popularly called, will go to Cleveland where he had undergone bypass surgery a few years ago. Accompanying the 78-year-old, who assumed office about two months ago, will be his personal physician Anil Kumar, attendants and close relatives.

Shekhawat, who moved to his official residence at 6, Maulana Azad Road recently after a series of renovations and religious rites, decided to go to Cleveland after doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences advised him to get his check-up done in America.

Shekhawat’s visit has, however, become the subject of debate in Delhi’s political circles.

A section of leaders wondered about the logic of burdening the exchequer when medical facilities in hospitals such as AIIMS, Escorts and Apollo were rated as world class.

These leaders recalled that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had gone to Mumbai’s Breach Candy hospital for knee operation by noted US-based orthopaedic surgeon C. Ranawat.

Even then, some doctors at AIIMS had privately objected to Vajpayee opting for a non-resident Indian doctor, saying that the institute’s track record and expertise was acknowledged world-wide.

Shekhawat’s supporters see nothing wrong in the Vice-President going abroad for check-up and point out that he is within his rights to do so.

Moreover, in view of protocol and his advanced age, the Vice-President, they say, is entitled to get the best treatment available.

They say the Vice-President is merely heeding the advice given by the AIIMS, where doctors had conducted a preliminary check-up. They also point out that quite a few political personalities cutting across party lines have gone to the US, the UK and other countries for medical check-up at government expense.

Shekhawat came back from Rajasthan yesterday with his family and three dogs and four cows.

The animals, extremely dear to the Vice-President, will be housed at 6, Maulana Azad Road, where special provisions are being made.

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