Ahmed Patel’s demise leaves a vacuum within Congress’ powerful

Affectionately called AP, Ahmed had been integral to the survival of the Congress Party throughout its various milestones in the last few decades
Ahmed Patel’s demise leaves a vacuum within Congress’ powerful

Indian National Congress, which is on a national freefall today, has lost potential support that had helped stop the slide on various occasions. The untimely death of Ahmed Patel, fondly called as AP in political circles, will definitely leave a vacuum for the Congress party, which would take ages to fill.

During the 1977 Loksabha elections, Indira Gandhi handpicked a 28-year-old panchayat President to contest from Baruch Loksabha constituency. Ahmed Patel surprised many by winning there and went on to become a prominent leader in the Congress party — a trouble-shooter during any crisis.

When Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister he had decided to build a young team around him and Ahmed Patel was one among the three parliamentary secretaries appointed then. After Rajiv’s assassination and prior to Sonia Gandhi entering active politics, AP was sidelined by the then party leadership, however, Ahmed waited for his opportunity.

In the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition, with Congress party embroiled in a struggle between senior leaders, Ahmed Patel played his cards to perfection to carve out a stand for himself. In a way, he avenged his sidelining by senior Congress leaders by being instrumental in bringing Sonia Gandhi to the forefront and there started the comradeship between Sonia and AP.

Remaining unambitious for himself earned AP new respect. He sculpted a new philosophy in the Congress party — there is no idea that cannot be reconciled for Congress party coming to power. He took the lead in harmonising conflicting political thoughts that would result in the formation of first UPA Government. Ten years of UPA rule was similar to living on the edge. The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi were always on the front to deal with the crises. However, the man behind the curtains, who ensured smooth passage of the UPA era, was Ahmed Patel. His political-personal acumen had helped the government to sail with the storm.

He narrowed the differences among UPA partners and other parties, which supported the Government. When the Government had to deal with the detractors even from the Congress party, AP acted as a bridge between the party and government. How UPA survived the no-confidence motion after the left parties withdrew, their support over the controversial nuclear deal was definitely a masterpiece among his many rescue acts.

AP had remained a selfless all-rounder who could fit into any role within the party. His organisational skills had helped shore the party in various states. The unexpected come back in Haryana where the poll pundits had written off Congress can be credited to Ahmed Patel. He maintained a healthy relation with industrial houses and corporates, which made sure that the coffer of Congress party never went dry.

A man who stitched alliances, who washed away stains, and who ironed out differences is no more. Congress will have to find a replacement to fill his boots at the earliest. It is indeed a difficult task. The political corridors of the country will always remember AP, a man who never showed his lust for power, but was very powerful.

The opinion piece is written by Lt Cdr. Gokul Chandran (R)

The NationWide