Farewell Ahmed

Ahmed Patel was one of those rare individuals who preferred to remain in the background and let others take the credit, writes Congress President Mrs Sonia Gandhi in a tribute

Farewell Ahmed

Sonia Gandhi

I find it impossible to believe that Ahmed Patel is no more. For four decades he was such an integral part of the Indian National Congress, both in Gujarat and at the national level. He came into politics under Indira Gandhi’s inspiration and was entrusted with a larger role by Rajiv Gandhi.

Ever since I myself became Congress President, he was at my side as a most trusted colleague, as someone I could always turn to for advice and counsel, as someone who I could depend upon without any questions being asked, to do the right thing by the Congress Party. He has been called troubleshooter and crisis manager. He was indeed that and much more. He was a sounding board. He was a confidant. All this makes his untimely passing a matter of the greatest anguish.

Ahmed-- as I would always call him--had a most genial personality. He remained cool, calm and collected under pressure. He became a source of great strength to me -- not just in my position as Congress President but also as Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). It was not just Congressmen and women who looked upon him as someone that they could reach out to. His friendships and appeal cut across political parties and I am personally aware of how leaders of different parties saw him as someone they could trust and build relationships with.

Ahmed was the quintessential organizational man. He preferred to remain one even when the Congress was in power. Not for him public office, not any publicity, not for him any form of public recognition or applause. He worked quietly but effectively away from the public glare and spotlight. His style of working perhaps enhanced his value and effectiveness.

People in politics like to be seen and heard. Ahmed was one of those rare individuals who preferred to remain in the background and let others take the credit. A man of devout faith, he was very much a family man in the intensely public arena of politics. Yet, he was a man who gave himself totally to his Party and its cause, never exploiting any of the several key positions he held for any selfish purpose. He was a staunch believer in the values of the Constitution and our country’s secular heritage.

Ahmed has left us, but his memories will live on. When the history of the Congress since the 1980s is written, his name will figure prominently as someone who was central to the Party’s achievements. We are all destined to depart sometime or the other but Ahmed has been snatched away from us very cruelly at a time when he was most needed.

The Congress needed him. Indian politics and public life needed him. We needed him

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