Tributes poured in from all quarters on Wednesday after senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s death. The 71-year-old died due to multiple organ failure over a month after he tested positive for the coronavirus.
Patel was a close aide of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. He had also served as her political secretary for many years. Mourning his death, Gandhi in a condolence message said that Patel dedicated his entire life to the Congress. “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,” she added. “I have lost an irreplaceable comrade, a faithful colleague and a friend.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called Patel “a tremendous asset”. “It is a sad day,” he tweeted. “Shri Ahmed Patel was a pillar of the Congress party. He lived and breathed Congress and stood with the party through its most difficult times. We will miss him. My love and condolences to Faisal, Mumtaz and the family.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he spoke to Patel’s son and remembered his role in strengthening the Congress. “Saddened by the demise of Ahmed Patel ji,” Modi tweeted. “He spent years in public life, serving society. Known for his sharp mind, his role in strengthening the Congress Party would always be remembered. Spoke to his son Faisal and expressed condolences. May Ahmed Bhai’s soul rest in peace.”
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Patel was one of the most trusted leaders of the Congress. “His passing away is an irreparable loss,” he wrote.
President Ram Nath Kovind, too, expressed his grief and remembered his tenure. “Distressed to know that veteran Congress leader Ahmed Patel is no more,” he tweeted. “An astute Parliamentarian, Shri Patel combined the skills of a strategist and the charm of a mass leader. His amiability won him friends across party lines. My condolences to his family and friends.”
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said Patel’s death has left an immense void. “Ahmed ji was not only a wise and experienced colleague to whom I constantly turned for advice and counsel, he was a friend who stood by us all, steadfast, loyal, and dependable to the end,” she added.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh called Patel’s demise a huge loss for Indian public life and a “horrendous blow” to the Congress. “A quintessential organisation man, he held many pivotal positions in the Congress over the past four decades,” the former Union minister wrote. “He had an unflappable temperament, and was a very effective crisis manager and trouble-shooter.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar also mourned Patel’s death, lauding him as a “guiding light” and hailing his contribution towards the Congress, PTI reported.
Thackeray also noted Patel’s prominent role in the formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra last year. “The Congress party has lost its Chanakya in Patel’s demise, while the MVA government has lost a guiding light,” he wrote. “I got help from his experience and guidance when the MVA government was formed.”