Ahmed Patel, one of Sonia Gandhi’s closest aide and Congress’ main trouble-shooter, has died at 71. He had been in hospital since his health worsened after a Covid infection. A Nehru-Gandhi family loyalist, Ahmed Patel, served as the long-serving political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. An organisational man, he had gently turned down offers to join the government at the centre by four prime ministers when the Congress was in power, according to party insiders. Patel has represented Gujarat seven times in Parliament–three-time as Lok Sabha member from Bharuch and four-time as Rajya Sabha member.
The contest for fifth Rajya Sabha term turned out to be the most challenging for the 67-year-old leader. Ahmed Patel beat Balwantsinh Rajput, who was till recently the Congress’ chief whip in the state Assembly before switching over to BJP, polling 44 votes in the first Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat in two decades which saw a contest instead of official candidates of major parties getting elected unopposed.
He won after dramatic late night developments which saw the Election Commission rejecting the votes of two dissident MLAs of the main opposition party for violating electoral rules. “This is not just my victory. It is a defeat of the most blatant use of money power, muscle power and abuse of state machinery,” Patel tweeted after his win.