Ahmed Patel’s death closes another door to politics with civility

Discretion was his middle name and with quiet confidence in the “art of the possible” he delivered - almost always, recalls Dr Harshavardhan Hegde, Delhi based surgeon and an old friend

Arun Singh, Oscar Fernandes and Ahmed Patel taking oath as Parliamentary Secretaries to then PM Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 (Photo courtesy: Twitter/ @khanthefatima)
Arun Singh, Oscar Fernandes and Ahmed Patel taking oath as Parliamentary Secretaries to then PM Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 (Photo courtesy: Twitter/@khanthefatima)
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Dr Harshavardhan Hegde

I had the good fortune of knowing Ahmed bhai personally, of being the recipient of his warmth and attention on quite a few occasions and I deeply mourn his death for both personal and public reasons.

Ahmed bhai had many admirable qualities. Some of them stood out for me: quite uncommonly of a powerful individual he was utterly peaceable, civil and humble to the core. He heard more than he talked and of the foul tongue he had none.

Always approachable and accessible his office remained open well past midnight where he met a constant stream of visitors on a daily basis. Everyone who met him felt a personal touch - his trademark "apnapan". You could heartily disagree with him, even quarrel, but without a trace of malice or rancour.

In a public life spanning over four decades he proved to be a superb crisis manager. He often succeeded in bringing seemingly antagonistic people or parties on one platform. His network of direct contacts traversed far and deep, from senior politicians within and outside his own party down to people at the grassroots. Discretion was his middle name and with quiet confidence in the "art of the possible" he delivered - almost always. A man who stayed behind the curtains, preferring to work from the wings than under the arc lights of politics and crafted what Indian politics was, he was a rare person in the crowded and noisy space politics has become.


What saddens me immensely is that his passing at this juncture shuts yet another door on a politics whose defining features are civility, decency, understatement and a bent of mind for negotiated settlement of festering conflicts and interests. I wish him peace and a lasting legacy that will continue to shape the future of our country.

(A surgeon based in Delhi, Dr Hegde has been an old friend of late Ahmed Patel)

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