NEW DELHI: After listening to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s budget speech it is difficult to understand why the government was so determined to deviate from earlier dates and announce the budget on February 1 before the crucial elections in Uttar Pradesh and other states. And more so why it was so desperate that the family and relatives of Muslim League MP E.Ahamed after he suffered a cardiac attack in Parliament were subjected to a “harrowing” experience.

E. Ahamed was rushed to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital from Parliament House around 1130 to 12 noon. Doctors went to work on him and the national secretary of the Muslim League Omer Khorram told The Citizen that he was inside at the time, and it was becoming increasingly clear that the MP was no more as there was no response to all the medical maneuveres.

Around this time two ministers in government Mahesh Sharma and MJ Akbar arrived, expressing concern. On their heels came a senior officer from the Prime Ministers Office. Mr Khorram said almost immediately after the PMO official arrived, the waiting MPs and colleagues from the Muslim League and Congress were asked to go out of the waiting area. This was in the afternoon.

They were then informed that Ahamed would be shifted to another ICU, a distance away in the hospital’s trauma centre. As Khorram said, while the reasons for this were not clear, no one objected and moved to wait outside the new ICU. No one from the family had reached by then, as the MPs two sons and a daughter were abroad and arrived late evening.

The MPs and party colleagues kept vigil and by the evening realised something was seriously amiss, when the doctors refused to meet them, and there was no communication from the inside. Except for a ‘he is on the ventilator’ there were no details with phone calls to the Medical Superintendent and others going unanswered. Khorram and a couple of other colleagues sought to impress on the staff on duty at the ICU that they should allow Ahamed’s daughter and her husband, both senior doctors, to go in and see him when they arrived.

By the evening word that the government was trying to ensure that the senior MP’s death was not declared so that the budget scheduled for the next morning was not postponed, started making the rounds. Agitated MPs and party leaders argued with the staff, but could not get the attention of the top doctors. By this time suddenly “40 bouncers arrived” as Khorram put it saying, “I did not know where I was, it certainly did not seem like a hospital.” The small group of supporters was now under surveillance by the “watchful bouncers” with the threat of eviction hanging in the air.

When the daughter, her husband and the sons arrived they were not allowed to go in to even look in on their father.

At around this time a few of the leaders present, Khorram included, went to meet with Minister Ananth Kumar. He was not present, and they were told he was in the PMO in a meeting. He arrived a while later and the group assured him that they were not interested in holding up the budget, they just wanted the doctors to let them know whether Mr Ahamed was alive or dead, and allow the family to meet him and claim the body if that was the issue. The Minister remained non-committal.

The delegation returned without any assurance and the people waiting for now over 12 hours, along with the MPs grieving family members present, were agitated but without recourse. At around 1130 Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi arrived at the hospital. As Khorram said “they too were extremely upset” and they intervened with the doctors. Finally after midnight the family was allowed inside the ICU and their father then declared dead.

The budget was presented as scheduled at 11a.m. on February 1.