India's foreign minister injured in road crash

Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee, a long-time stalwart of the governing Congress Party, was seriously injured when a lorry slammed into his car, it was reported today.

Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee, a long-time stalwart of the governing Congress Party, was seriously injured when a lorry slammed into his car, it was reported today.

The accident happened yesterday as Mukherjee, 72, was travelling back from his parliamentary constituency north of Calcutta, eastern India’s main city, said Raj Kanojia, a senior police official in the state of West Bengal.

The lorry driver apparently lost control when a tyre burst as Mukherjee’s convoy was driving past in the opposite lane, Kanojia said.

The Press Trust of India news agency described his condition as serious in its initial reports filed soon after the accident, although an MP from the governing Congress party, Adhir Chowdhury, said today the foreign minister was out of danger.

Mukherjee was first taken to a village clinic near the site of the accident, where he was “given stitches in his head and oxygen and saline to stabilise his condition”, PTI reported, quoting a doctor.

He was then transferred to a hospital in a nearby town where a team of army doctors and neurosurgeons rushed to meet him.

Kanojia said Mukherjee would be taken by helicopter to Calcutta today, where he would then be put on a special flight bound for New Delhi, the capital.

Mukherjee is close to prime minister Manmohan Singh and Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi.

He was first named defence minister after Congress returned to power in 2004, and became foreign minister in an October Cabinet reshuffle.

Two West Bengal state politicians were also hurt in the accident, along with Mukherjee’s driver and security guard, both whom were reportedly in a serious condition.

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