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Heart Surgery on Indian PM Deemed Successful


India's prime minister is recovering at a New Delhi hospital following surgery to clear blocked arteries in his heart. Surgeons in New Delhi say Manmohan Singh is recovering well following coronary bypass surgery on Saturday.

A team of eleven physicians, most of whom came to the capital from a heart institute in Mumbai, cleared blocked arteries of the prime minister during the day-long heart bypass surgery.

Lead cardiologist Ramakant Panda says Mr. Singh is in stable condition. "We went ahead and did five bypasses," he said. "The operation went on very well. There's no problem. Only thing is because it's the second bypass it takes a very long time to do.

He had a similar bypass operation in Britain 19 years ago. This latest surgery was quickly scheduled after Mr. Singh complained of chest pains and underwent tests which determined he again had blocked arteries.

While he was undergoing surgery prayers for his speedy recovery were offered at Sikh temples, known as gurudwaras. Mr. Singh is India's first prime minister of the Sikh faith.

Officials say until the prime minister recovers there will be collective decision-making by the Cabinet, with meetings chaired by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. He briefly spoke to reporters Saturday following the prime minister's surgery.

"We are wishing a happy, quick recovery of prime minister and doctors are quite confident," he said. "I do hope everything will be all right."

Government spokesmen say there is no need to appoint an acting prime minister and Mr. Singh's Congress Party is expressing confidence that he will continue to lead the country following national elections to be held by May. He has led the country since 2005.

But there are concerns about his physical well-being and political staying-power.

The prime minister is a diabetic and has undergone prostate and other surgeries in recent years.

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 push forward 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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