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Jan 11, 2010 at 08:10am IST

Basu slightly better but critical

Kolkata: Marxist patriarch Jyoti Basu's health condition marginally improved on Sunday though he was still critical and on partial ventilator support in hospital, doctors attending on him said.

The 95-year-old leader was responding to calls and moving his hands. The medical bulletin issued by the AMRI Hospital a little after noon on Sunday said Basu's general condition was "marginally better compared to yesterday (Saturday), but still critical" and he continued to be on partial ventilator support.

The improved status was maintained through the day. "The general condition has remained unchanged," said the night bulletin, lifting spirits among the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leaders' supporters gathered at the hospital.

The 95-year-old leader was responding to calls and moving his hands.

On Saturday, the doctors said the CPI-M veteran's health was deteriorating and he had slipped into a state of drowsiness with the infection affecting multiple organs. He was admitted Jan 1 to the AMRI Hospital for pneumonia and shifted to the Intensive Cardiac Care Unit (ICCU) the following day.

The former West Bengal chief minister was put on ventilator Jan 6 after acute respiratory problems.

An eight-member medical board overseeing his treatment said Basu's central nervous system was better than on Saturday and he was "responding to calls". His cardiovascular function was "more or less stable", with the blood pressure being maintained with stabilising medicines.

"He also moved his hands though he could not open his eyes. It seems the drowsiness has slightly reduced. But we won't say that he does not have any infection," said critical care specialist Susrut Banerjee, a medical board member.

"There is infection in his body, but yes, it has reduced," said Banerjee.

Basu's urine output has picked up under medication. "Dialysis is not warranted as of now," said hospital executive vice-president T.S. Kuckrejja, who read out the night bulletin.

However, Kuckrejja cautioned that the condition could change any time.

Cardiologist A.K. Maity, another board member, said though Basu's level of senses was a bit down at night, "If things go on like this I think it will go for the better."

"After two days we will understand whether the condition is stabilising or not. But yes, there are a lot of problems," he said.

Among the leaders to visit Basu Sunday were Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and state CPI-M secretary Biman Bose.

Describing Basu as one of the country's greatest leader,Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh said it was unfortunate the CPI-M did not allow him to become the prime minister in 1996 at the head of a United Front government. "Had he become prime minister, the prestige of the chair would have increased," he said.

Local leaders and supporters of the party crowded the roads and pavements around the hospital for an update on his health, and people came from as far as Cooch Behar, 773 km away, for a glimpse of the leader.

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama - who was in town Sunday to attend a function - also prayed for Basu's fast recovery.

"I saw a report in a newspaper that he (Basu) is in hospital. I saw his photo. He looks so fragile... We all must pray for him," the Dalai Lama said.

A concerned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the hospital Thursday and has been monitoring the health condition of the veteran leader.

Following an offer from the prime minister to arrange for specialists, the medical board held a tele-conference with AIIMS experts Friday.

Basu holds the record for the longest 23-year-old stint as chief minister from June 1977 to November 2000. He stepped down voluntarily on health grounds.

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