Congress leader Ahmed Patel died on Wednesday at the age of 71. Patel was considered a troubleshooter for the Congress. He was among the closest advisers to Sonia Gandhi. Patel was counted among the most powerful Congress leaders, but he was never part of the government. Patel was closely associated with the Gandhi family since Indira’s time. In 1977, when he was just 28 years old, Indira Gandhi got him contested from Bharuch.
Ahmed Patel’s stature had increased during Rajiv Gandhi’s time, Ahmed Patel’s stature in the Congress increased further during 1980 and 1984 when Rajiv Gandhi was being groomed to assume responsibility after Indira Gandhi. Then Ahmed Patel came close to Rajiv Gandhi. After the assassination of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi came to power in 1984 with a majority of 400 Lok Sabha seats and Patel was a Congress MP and was made joint secretary of the party. He was also briefly appointed as Parliamentary Secretary and then General Secretary of the Congress.
When Narasimha Rao had to face difficulties, in 1991, when Narasimha Rao became Prime Minister, Ahmed Patel was sidelined. Apart from membership of the Congress Working Committee, Ahmed Patel was removed from all posts. At that time the influence of the Gandhi family was also reduced, so the family loyalists also had to face difficulties. When Narasimha Rao offered a ministerial position, Patel turned down. He also lost the Lok Sabha elections from Gujarat and started getting notices to vacate the government house, but did not seek help from anyone.
Working in a very strategic way, in 2004, when the UPA government was formed, Ahmed refused to join the cabinet and expressed his desire to continue working for the party. In both UPA tenures from 2004 to 2014, he did a better job of coordination between the party and the government. According to media reports, working till late at night and handing over any work to any Congress worker at any time was included in Patel’s habits. It is said that he used to keep a mobile phone always free, on which only phones came from 10 Janpath. They worked in a very strategic way. Prime Minister used to work with strategy rather than rhetoric to face the challenge of Narendra Modi.