Senior Indian National Congress (INC) leader Ahmed Patel, who was undergoing treatment at a Gurugram hospital after testing positive for Covid-19, breathed his last after multi-organ failure in the wee hours of 25 November (today), his son Faisal confirmed. He was 71.
In a tweet, Faisal said that the Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat had died at 3:30 AM.
“With profound grief & sorrow, I regret to announce the sad & untimely demise of my father, Mr. Ahmed Patel at 25/11/2020, 03:30 AM. After testing positive for Covid-19 around a month ago, his health worsened further due to multiple organ failures.
“Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un (Arabic: From Allah, we have come and to Him, we shall return),” the son tweeted, requesting all their well-wishers to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations by avoiding mass gatherings.
“…also maintain social distancing norms at all times,” Faisal tweeted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death of Congress veteran and said Ahmed Patel was known for a sharp mind and his role in strengthening the Congress Party would always be remembered.
Former INC president Rahul Gandhi condoled the demise of one of Sonia Gandhi’s closest political advisors and said that Ahmed Patel was a pillar of the Congress party and stood with the party through its most difficult times.
Several party leaders including Priyanka Gandhi, Randeep Singh Surjewala expressed their condolences on Twitter too.
“He was a friend who stood by us all, steadfast, loyal, and dependable to the end,” wrote Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra.
Patel, also the Treasurer of the Indian National Congress, had tested positive for the Covid-19 on 1 October and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of Medanta Hospital in Gurugram on 15 November.
On 1 October, Patel, while disclosing that he had tested coronavirus-positive, had urged all those who came in contact with him in past few days to undergo self-isolation.
Ahmed Patel: A career
Ahmed Patel (Ahmedbhai Mohammedbhai Patel) was known as one of the most trusted confidantes of INC’s current matriarch Sonia Gandhi. He played the role of the chief troubleshooter of the party throughout the UPA decade and further thereafter.
In 2005, he had got Bharuch included as one of the first five districts to be covered under the then launched Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, to boost electrification in the district. The Sardar Patel bridge to de-congest traffic between the twin cities of Bharuch and Ankleshwar has also been one of his contributions to the region.
He was considered a part of the power centre in the INC due to his proximity to the president, Sonia Gandhi.
Ahmed Patel was born on 21 August 1949 in Bharuch, in the western Indian state of Gujarat. His father was a social worker. He went on to join the Youth Congress, the student’s wing of the INC.
He had been tapped by the then Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, in 1977 to contest elections for the Sixth Lok Sabha from Bharuch. He went on to win the elections and also won subsequent Lok Sabha elections in 1980 and 1984, continuing to represent Bharuch in the Parliament through 1989. In 1985, he went on to become was the Parliamentary Secretary to the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. In 1987, in his capacity as Member of Parliament, he had helped set up the Narmada Management Authority to monitor the Sardar Sarovar Project. He was appointed the secretary of the Jawahar Bhavan Trust in 1988 and is credited with having completed the construction of the Jawahar Bhavan in time for Nehru’s birth centenary celebrations.
In 2005, Ahmed Patel was inducted into the Rajya Sabha for his fourth term. Though considered Sonia Gandhi’s chief strategist, he chose to keep out of the UPA government in the 14th and 15th Lok Sabha. He maintained a low profile and avoided media and public glare. Patel is the only second Muslim after Ehsan Jafri to be elected as a Lok Sabha MP in Gujarat where Muslim candidates under difficulty.
He served as political secretary to Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Indian National Congress. He had served as the parliamentary secretary to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985. He had also been appointed as the treasurer of the All India Congress Committee replacing senior party member Motilal Vora.
His most recent election to the Rajya Sabha in 2017, was heavily contested with the Gujarat state legislators being taken away to the southern state of Karnataka in order to prevent dissent, and select defectors being disqualified for revealing their ballots before casting them. This ended up being the first Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat to be contested in decades, while prior candidates had been elected unopposed.