It takes patience to deal with politicians. A majority of them are hypochondriacs. There is no way a doctor, particularly of a government hospital, can be honest with them about their ailments. The risk is a transfer to some remote hospital that has zero facilities.
Revealing a politician’s ailment can unwittingly play into the hands of his opposition. When someone is out of power, you have to be extra nice, as they may be in power tomorrow.
My motto with politicians is to tell them what they want to hear. I have been in the same hospital for over a decade now. Politicians, ministers and their families seek me out as they know that I do the job well. A politician you treat will always recommend you to others and it helps increase your clout.
Though I have politicians across parties as my patients, I ensure that I do not drop names either to the media or others. This is a surefire way of digging one’s own grave. No politician likes anyone to know of their ailment. They like to give the impression that they are naturally healthy. I have treated Bal Thackeray, Pramod Mahajan and three-fourths of Maharashtra’s politicians. But it has always been away from the media glare.
Treating a politician is good for the CV. One’s patient load also increases. My progress has been quicker than others due to the goodwill of the politicians I have treated. I have no qualms, unlike others, of going to a politician’s residence when called. I go and tell them that the sophisticated machines needed to treat their condition cannot be brought to their homes. Once they hear this, they come over to the hospital.
Play along, and before they realise it, it is the politician who is putty in your hands. When things are nicely put, they will follow it. You have to be an ego massager. I learnt that trick and am now extremely successful.
(This doctor heads a state-run hospital)
As told to Haima Deshpande