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Doctors: Indian PM Heart Surgery a Success

  • VOA News

India's external affairs minister says doctors are "quite confident" Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will recover from heart surgery.

Pranab Mukherjee spoke after Mr. Singh underwent more than eight-hours of heart bypass surgery on Saturday.

Lead cardiologist Ramakant Panda says the operation went well, and that Mr. Singh is in stable condition at a hospital in New Delhi.

The surgery comes as India prepares for national elections expected in May, and raised questions about who was in charge.

Government officials say the Cabinet will make decisions collectively (with meetings chaired by External Affairs Minister Mukherjee) while Mr. Singh recovers, and that there is no need to appoint an interim prime minister.

Medical experts say it could be a number of weeks before the prime minister can fully resume his duties.


Doctors decided to operate on the 76-year-old leader after he complained of chest pain and tests revealed several blocked arteries. Mr. Singh has a history of heart trouble and underwent a similar operation in Britain in 1990.

Mr. Singh's Congress Party says he will continue as prime minister if the ruling coalition wins the May vote. But some of his coalition partners have signaled they may back other candidates for the post.

Mr. Singh has a reputation as a skilled technocrat who has guided the world's largest democracy during an economic boom period. The real political power in the governing Congress Party is said to rest with Sonia Gandhi, widow of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Political analysts say Mrs. Gandhi may be compelled to promote her 38-year-old son, Rahul, as Mr. Singh's successor if the prime minister's health becomes a mounting concern during the upcoming election campaign.

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