The Congress party’s top strategist and troubleshooter Ahmed Patel died in a Gurugram hospital in the early hours of Wednesday following complications related to COVID-19. He was 71.
The last rites of the senior leader, who was confidant, crisis manager and consensus builder for the Congress, will be held in Bharuch in his home state Gujarat on Thursday, sources close to the family said.
The body will be taken to his native village in a special aircraft directly from the hospital. Family members will leave in another
plane, they said. Patel, who is survived by his wife, son and daughter, had been critical for the last few days. He was admitted to Gurugram’s Medanta hospital on November 15 and died at at 3.30 am on Wednesday, his son Faisal said.
“With profound grief & sorrow, I regret to announce the sad and untimely demise of my father, Mr Ahmed Patel at 25/11/2020, 03:30 am. After testing positive for COVID-19 around a month back, his health worsened further due to multiple organ failures. May Allah grant him Jannatul firdaus, inshallah,” he said on Twitter. He also urged well-wishers to adhere to COVID-19 regulations by avoiding mass gatherings.
As news spread about the death of the leader – low profile, astute and a staunch Congress loyalist for decades – a host of senior party leaders visited his residence to meet the family and express their condolences. Among them were former party chief Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal, Digvijaya Singh, Kamal Nath, Anand Sharma, Randeep Surjewala, Bhupinder Hooda, Mukul Wasnik and Jitin Prasada.
‘AP’ and ‘Babubhai’ to his friends and ‘Ahmed Bhai’ to colleagues, Patel was one of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s closest aides and her political secretary for the longest time.
The Congress’ backroom strategist, who steered the party out of many a ticklish situation, was also the grand old party’s point person for building consensus on key issues with other parties and leaders. He was key in forging the UPA alliance in 2004.