Privately speaking

Updated: Mar 23 2006, 05:30am hrs
When CPI-M state chief, Anil Biswas, suffered a cerebral stroke on Saturday night, he was rushed to the privately-owned Woodlands Nursing Home, not to a state-run hospital. So much for the Left Front governments faith in its own hospitals, which continue to be administrative nightmares. Over recent years, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, backed by people in his party, like Biswas, have tried to reform this, but in vain. A government hospital insider said it would be impossible to perform an emergency operation at night of the sort performed on Biswas at Woodlands to remove a clot from his brain, even at the elite government hospitals. For one, the hospitals do not have such advanced operation theatres, especially for emergencies. Second, the specialists or senior doctors are never available at night. Even their daytime visits are brief, he said. Junior doctors or interns and, sometimes, post-graduate trainees, are left to run the show.

Over recent months, the government has managed to transfer some doctors and get them to visit the wards, but the reforms were too late for Biswas. While the party will pay Biswas bill, ordinary comrades cannot dream of a bed in Woodlands. For them, clout is judged by the ability to get a bed at a government hospital.

Steps in mixing

This year, chief minister Naveen Patnaik was not solicited to dance at the Nuakhai Bhent Ghant, an annual get-together of those from western Orissa in Bhubaneswar. For, last time, hed declined, saying he knew some western dance, but not that of western Orissa. This year, though, he did read out a speech in the Sambalpuri dialect, albeit written in the English script.