Ahmed Patel dies at 71: Five-time Rajya Sabha MP was Congress' organisation man, Gandhi family loyalist

Ahmed Patel, senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member of Parliament, passed away early on Wednesday morning at the age of 71 years.

His son Faisal Patel, announcing his death on Twitter, said —

Patel, also the Treasurer of the Indian National Congress, had tested positive for 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 positive for the COVID-19, had urged all those who came in contact with him in past few days to undergo self-isolation.

Congress' organisation man

A quintessential organisation man, Patel had cross-party connections and direct access to senior Opposition leaders such as Nationalist Congress Party's Sharad Pawar and Trinamool Congress' Mamata Banerjee.

He shot to the limelight when he won the Lok Sabha polls from Baruch in Gujarat in 1977 during the Janata Party wave and was made the Gujarat Youth Congress chief. The 71-year old leader was a three-time member of Lok Sabha and was into his fifth term in the Rajya Sabha.

Patel served as Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi for 16 years and rose in stature with time. His rapport with party leaders across generations came in handy in the role as he efficiently executed decisions while acting as a bridge between the top leadership and party functionaries at various levels.

After the Congress-led UPA came to power in 2004, Patel refused to join the Cabinet and instead preferred to work in the organisation.

He was appointed party treasurer in August 2018 ahead of the Lok Sabha elections at a time when the Congress faced a fund crunch.

Accessible, polite and tactful, Patel was a link between the gen-next of the party and the senior leadership. Suave but understated in his style, Patel also had a good rapport with the media.

He had pulled off a dramatic victory in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls in 2017 despite a determined effort by the BJP to prevent the Congress from winning the seat. It was a battle where his personal prestige was at stake and Patel fought to the finish.

A long-serving member of the Congress Working Committee, Patel was among those who contested and won elections to the party's highest decision-making body. Patel had earlier also served as the treasurer of the party when the Congress was out of power from 1996 to 2000. He had also been involved with the work of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.

With inputs from ANI

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