Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel dies at 71

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel dies at 71

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who was in hospital after testing positive for the COVID-19 last month, passed away in early hours of Wednesday due to multiple organ failures, his son Faisal Patel announced in a tweet.

"With profound grief and sorrow, I regret to announce the sad and untimely demise of my father, Mr. Ahmed Patel at 25/11/2020 at 3:30am. After testing positive for COVID-19 around a month back, his health worsened further due to multiple organ failures. I request all well-wishers to adhere to COVID-19 law and order regulations by avoiding any mass gatherings and to also maintain social distancing norms at all times," Faisal Patel tweeted.

Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat and Treasurer of the Indian National Congress, Ahmed Patel was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Medanta Hospital in Haryana's Gurugram on November 15.

In a tweet on October 1, Ahmed Patel had announced, "I have tested positive for COVID-19. I request all those who came in close contact with me recently, to self isolate."

Patel's death comes just two days after the demise of another senior Congress leader and former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi. Incidentally, 84-year-old Gogoi, too, had tested positive for COVID-19, in August, and was rushed to hospital again, on November 2, after complaining of breathlessness.

An eight-time parliamentarian, Ahmed Patel served three terms in the Lok Sabha and five terms in the Rajya Sabha. He was appointed as the Treasurer of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in August 2018. His last Rajya Sabha election in 2017 was contested very keenly amid charges of horse-trading.

Patel began his political career by contesting the local body polls in Gujarat's Bharuch district in 1976. He became a Lok Sabha MP in March 1977 and was a member of the sixth, seventh and eighth Lok Sabha till 1989. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha for the first time in August 1993.

He later took charge of the Congress' organisational structure both in Gujarat and at the Centre. Though Patel never became a minister, he always worked as the background man in the Congress and was at the centrestage of the party's decision-making till his death.

Patel was a close confidant of Rajiv Gandhi and the parliamentary secretary to the prime Minister from 1985 to 1986. Ahmed Patel also played a key role in setting up the Narmada Management Authority to oversee the Sardar Sarovar Project.

"AP" to his friends and "Ahmed Bhai" to colleagues, Patel was one of the closest aides of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her political secretary for a long time.

He was the trouble-shooter of the Congress and had steered the party out of ticklish situations many a time. He was the grand old party's pointsman for building consensus on key issues with other parties and leaders.

A soft-spoken and affable man, Patel was well respected and had friends across the aisle and in different spheres. Patel leaves behind his wife, a son and a daughter.

Messages of condolences poured in soon after the announcement of Patel's death.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, besides Congress leaders, including party chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, and Union ministers condoled Patel's demise.

Sonia Gandhi, in her condolence message, said in Patel's death, "I have lost a colleague, whose entire life was dedicated to the Congress Party."

"His faithfulness and dedication, his commitment to his duty, his always being there to help, his generosity were rare qualities that distinguished him from others. I have lost an irreplaceable comrade, a faithful colleague and a friend. I mourn his passing and I feel deeply for his bereaved family to whom I offer my sincere feelings of empathy and support," she said.

(With PTI inputs)

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