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Minister Nitin Gadkari faints on dais, uncorks gomutra riddle

A year ago, he had said he has been cured of diabetes because he drinks cow urine potion everyday

By Arnab Ganguly in Mumbai

  • Published 8.12.18, 4:45 AM
  • Updated 11.12.18, 5:14 PM
Union minister Nitin Gadkari at the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple on Friday.
Union minister Nitin Gadkari at the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple on Friday. PTI

Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday fainted on the dais during a convocation and recovered soon enough but his subsequent updates on the likely cause drew fresh attention to a gomutra (cow urine) potion he had credited with curing his diabetes.

Gadkari, in charge of road transport and highways and widely seen as an efficient minister, fainted while the national anthem was being played at the convocation of an agriculture university in Ahmednagar’s Rahuri.

Footage shows the minister, who appears to be chewing something, roll his eyes and look like he is about to collapse. Maharashtra governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, who was by Gadkari’s side, held him as the minister gradually lowered himself to his chair.

Initially, Gadkari, 61, blamed it on his low blood sugar levels. “Had slight medical condition due to low sugar. I have been attended by doctors and I am doing well now. I thank all of you for the well wishes,” he tweeted.

Later, he said: “I felt some suffocation at the event. The pandal was airtight. I was wearing the robes of the convocation ceremony; that is why there was less oxygen. That’s also why I fainted. My health is all right. (I have) no problem of blood pressure or sugar now.”

At Nagpur airport, Gadkari said: “I had vertigo due to extreme heat and suffocation during the programme. My blood pressure and blood sugar are normal. Because of this incident, a lot party workers are worried but there is no need to worry. As per the doctor’s advice, I will be undergoing certain medical check-ups.”

The unfortunate episode on the dais renewed interest in a disclosure made by Gadkari a year ago. “I drink gomutra ark (potion) every day. My diabetes is cured now,” he had said.

The minister had further said: “I don’t have to take insulin any more. Earlier, sugar levels would be 120, 122, 124. Now it is under control.”

In response to questions, a doctor said on Friday that a surgery that Gadkari had undergone a few years ago might explain both his statement about being cured of diabetes and his fainting episode.

A senior diabetes specialist said — after clarifying that he was not familiar with Gadkari’s medical details and was merely responding to questions based on the minister’s initial statement — that low blood sugar is a rare but known complication of bariatric surgery, which Gadkari had undergone in 2011.

“Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) is a rare but known complication — and hypoglycaemia can cause people to faint,” said Satinath Mukhopadhyay, professor of endocrinology at the Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Calcutta.

Bariatric surgery — a procedure in which the stomach’s volume is surgically reduced — can itself lead to the remission of diabetes.

But the doctor said there was no reliable evidence that a gomutra potion could help control diabetes. “None whatsoever,” Mukhopadhyay said.

“Chronic diabetes patients should keep a close watch on their blood sugar level, monitoring it at least three to four times a week. They should never skip meals,” advised Joyeeta Basu, a Gurgaon-based physician and co-founder of the Doctors Hub.

The fainting episode drew expressions of concern and goodwill for the genial leader from across the political spectrum.

Among those to wish Gadkari well were Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and NCP chief Sharad Pawar.

Additional reporting by G.S. Mudur in New Delhi