The End of an Era: Ace Congress Troubleshooter, Ahmed Patel Passes Away


The End of an Era: Ace Congress Troubleshooter, Ahmed Patel Passes Away

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Last night, at 3:30 am in a Gurgaon hospital, one of the Congress party’s most stalwart loyalists breathed his last. The 71-year-old Ahmed Patel, who announced that he had contracted Covid-19 in October, became another victim of the global coronavirus pandemic. His death leaves a yawning chasm in the Congress, where he made a name for himself as one of its best troubleshooters for problems both internally and with other parties. The leader from Gujarat, who served eight terms in total in both Houses of Parliament, was known for being one of the most important decision-makers in Congress outside of the Gandhi family. Patel’s passing was announced by his son, Faisal, on Twitter, who also requested well-wishers to avoid mass gatherings and maintain social distancing norms.

The loss of Patel will be keenly felt within the Congress. Ever since making his start as a first-time Lok Sabha member in 1977 under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Patel has continued to work with the top leadership in each decade. He served PM Rajiv Gandhi as a Parliamentary Secretary, and worked closely with Sonia Gandhi for many years while also being a member of the Congress Working Committee. He has played a key role in brokering many alliances for the party over the decades, with his most recent feat of statesmanship involving the formation of a new coalition in Maharashtra with a former BJP ally, Shiv Sena. The Congress’ top leadership were quick to pay tribute to Patel after his passing. Sonia Gandhi declared she had lost an “irreplaceable comrade, faithful colleague, and a good friend”, while Rahul Gandhi called Patel “a pillar of the Congress party” and “a tremendous asset”, in recognition of all that Patel had achieved for the party over the years.

Other leaders to mourn Patel’s passing included Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Randeep Singh Surjewala, and Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

Even current PM Narendra Modi noted Patel’s legacy as an influential leader on the opposite side of the aisle.

The Congress party will definitely miss Patel’s steady presence.