The real reason Sonia Gandhi skipped today’s CWC meet

New Delhi, Nov 07: An SPG bulletproof vehicle was ready and waiting at 10:55 today at the portico of 10 Janpath, but doctors attending on Mrs Gandhi impressed upon her not to venture out from the air-conditioned environs of her home to the Congress party office at 24 Akbar Road. The office is just a minute’s drive from her home but doctors told her that pollution levels were so high that it could damage her lungs. Ranjit Surjewala, Congress spokesperson also told the media that Mrs Gandhi had developed a throat problem.

The dense cover of grey haze shrouding Delhi for almost a week, reminiscent of the 1952 Great Smog in London, plunged the city’s air quality to the season’s worst, with even the 24-hour-average threatening to go past the maximum limit.

The real-time readings of respirable pollutants PM 2.5 and PM 10 breached the safe standards by over 17 times at many places. The hourly air quality index of monitoring stations run by Central Pollution Control Board and SAFAR remained 500 plus, which is beyond the maximum limit.

Experts said while the level of sulphur dioxide is still in control in the city, in terms of other parameters like volume of particulates, the situation was nearly as bad as the infamous London episode that had resulted in around 4,000 premature deaths.

The CWC meeting comes at a time when a section of party men feels that Congress President Sonia Gandhi, 69, should hand over the mantle to her son as she is suffering from ill health, especially after her roadshow in PM Narendra Modi’s constituency of Varanasi on 2 August when she was hospitalised.