At facility in Manhattan

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  • Published 5.08.11

Aug. 4: Sonia Gandhi is an unlisted patient at Sloan-Kettering in Manhattan, according to sources in New York.

All the arrangements for Sonia’s surgery and treatment have been made by Pulok Chatterji, her long-time confidant who is now India’s executive director at the World Bank headquarters in Washington.

Chatterji and his aide at the executive director’s office, Rupes Dalal, have taken leave of absence from the bank. They travelled to New York on Monday to be by Sonia’s side during her admission to the Sloan-Kettering’s in-patient facility on Manhattan’s New York Avenue.

According to skeletal information that Chatterji provided to the World Bank president’s office before handing over mandatory charge of the bank’s South Asia constituency to Kazi Aminul Islam of Bangladesh, he will be back in Washington on August 10.

Dalal will be back in his office on Monday. This suggests that the Congress president expects to swiftly recuperate.

There are suggestions here that at some point during her recovery, Sonia should move to the Weill Cornell Medical Center or the Columbia University Medical Center of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, one of the most comprehensive university hospitals in the world.

This is because the McKeen Pavilion of the Columbia University Center’s hotel-like facility offers, during recuperation, suites with sweeping but peaceful views of the Hudson River and has sitting rooms for visitors and other facilities that normal hospital rooms do not have.

Similarly, the Weill Cornell location offers private suites with panoramic views of the East River or the Manhattan skyline coupled with the capabilities of a fully functional hospital room.

If his consultancy is requested, an Indian-origin doctor at New York-Presbyterian, Dattatreyudu Nori, will be allowed to attend medical procedures at Sloan-Kettering.

Indian diplomatic outposts in New York and Washington have been completely shut out of Sonia’s treatment and other arrangements. This is said to be a reflection of the Gandhi family’s desire to keep the government at arm’s length from what it considers a private affair and, in part, to prevent speculation based on ill-informed leaks.

Hence the reliance on Chatterji, who is to take over as principal secretary to the Prime Minister in October.

Among those who wished her speedy recovery are chief ministers Narendra Modi and Mayavati and leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj.

“Have come to know through media about Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s surgery. I pray for her speedy recovery and good health,” tweeted Modi, who was locked in a war of words with the Congress president during elections in Gujarat.

Modi said he prayed to the Almighty for her speedy recovery and return to best of health, a Gujarat government statement said later.

“We hope and want that she regains her health quickly and returns,” Sushma, who was accompanied by Arun Jaitley, told reporters in Delhi.