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Opinion

Ahmed Patel: Congressional Chief Problem Solver and Master Strategist no longer exists

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Congressional Senior Leader Ahmed Patel died in the early hours of Wednesday from multiple organ failures after testing positive for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) last month, his son Faisal Patel announced in a tweet. He was 71 years old.

Popularly known as ‘Babu bhai’, ‘Ahmed Bhai’ and ‘AP’ in political circles, Patel had been the chief crisis manager, the key problem solver, the man to turn to in emergencies and a master strategist. of Congress for decades. .

Born on August 21, 1949 in the village of Piraman near Bharuch in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Interior Minister Amit Shah, he represented the state eight times in Parliament, three times as a member of the Lok Sabha de Bharuch and five times. as a member of Rajya Sabha.

A loyalist of the Gandhi family, Patel was one of the most powerful leaders in Congress and is said to have repeatedly rejected offers to join the central government when the party was in power.

Having been political secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi from 2001 to 2017 when she handed over the reins of the organization to her son Rahul Gandhi, Patel remained a vital link between the party’s high command and leaders and workers, and also between the party and government as well as allies.

Patel played an important role during the 10 years of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, but he always kept a low profile.

In those days it was an unwritten rule that the news station crew turned off their cameras every time Patel spoke to the media. Reporters often searched for clues from him to confirm their clues.

It was thanks to his crisis management skills that the congressional-led government managed to win the vote of confidence in 2008 after left-wing parties withdrew their support for the UPA over the Indo-American nuclear deal.

In August 2018, the then President of Congress, Rahul Gandhi, appointed Patel as party treasurer, a position he held from October 1996 to July 2000.

The appointment came at a time when Congress was dealing with its worst financial crisis. Several congressional leaders had admitted to having suffered a “severe funding crisis” during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The crisis, attributed to corporate houses moving away from Congress, continued during subsequent elections.

Obviously, Patel had returned as treasurer to use his contacts with industrialists to mobilize resources for the party to fight in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

A member of the powerful Congressional Working Committee (CWC) since April 1992, Patel also served as parliamentary secretary to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985-86.

In addition to being President of the Gujarat Congress from January 1986 to October 1988, he was the party’s general secretary twice, from September 1985 to January 1986 and then from May 1992 to October 1996.

Patel won his fifth term from Gujarat in 2017 after a thrilling finale in the tight Rajya Sabha election, which had turned into a prestigious battle between Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Patel was known for settling internal dissent within the party, but his death came at a time when Congress is fighting a crisis over the leadership issue. A group of 23 leaders wrote to the president of Congress last month calling for a complete reform of the party and full-time leadership to halt the steady decline of the 135-year-old organization. They renewed their call after the beating in the Bihar assembly elections and by-elections in several states.

With its main problem solver missing, a battered Congress faces tough times and a tough road ahead.

Hindustan Times

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