E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The news that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has had to get both his wrists operated at short intervals has created a sort of panic unseen in recent years.
Both the South and North Blocks were agog with concern and the ‘What Next?’ expression was writ large on their collective eyebrows. Years before, Congressmen were afflicted with a similar ‘After Nehru, who?’ disability.
They knew PM’s hands were tied most of the time, but he had to undergo wrist surgery to become free again? Unthinkable. But that’s how it is in Delhi.
The PM’s spokesman was most courteous when I landed at his office to get details about the gut-wrenching wrist job. “How did it happen? How did he manage to get both the wrists inoperable at the same time?” I asked.
“Correction. It was the right wrist that got twisted earlier. This was when George W. Bush was here. The American president was very enthusiastic with his India visit after the plunging poll numbers forced him to flee Washington. Encouraged with the great reception he got, he started pumping the PM’s hand for quite some time and repeated it for the Indian and foreign media. That twisted his right wrist.”
“Did it also cause increase of pressure on the wrist?” “No. That happened later when Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice shook his hands before he went to sign the nuclear deal. By that time, the Americans had twisted his arm substantially that put pressure on the nerve ending at his wrist. He signed the deal quickly without even glancing, and asked Anil Kakodkar not to ask too many questions. Naturally, he didn’t want to aggravate the injury by signing any corrections to the original draft.”
“All this nitty-gritty is so revealing. What happened with the left wrist?”
“Obviously the Left Party was not going to keep quiet after Americans ran away with the nuclear deal. ‘The Office of Profit’ thing snowballed to such an extent, even the UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi had to run for cover and face reelection. The Lok Sabha Speaker is of Leftist pedigree and he had to be rescued likewise, because of his Shanti Niketan connections. That’s when the Left started meeting the PM daily. Since he couldn’t use his right hand, they started their ‘left hand’ treatment. With so many Left leaders applying pressure, soon his left wrist too gave away.”
“So tragic! Political pressures could be so complicated and nervy. No wonder so many are running to Baba Ramdev to learn acupuncture! One last question. Why did the PM get his wrists operated at Army Research and Referral Hospital?"
“Actually two junior doctors who have just become orthopedic surgeons offered to do surgery! Because of the strike against reservations, the HRD Minister Arjun Singh advised the PM to get it done only at the Army R&R. That’s how we had to say ‘No’ even to the directors of AIIMS and LNJP Hospitals!”