He was instrumental in Siddaramaiah joining the party, and had a strong bond with D.K. Shivakumar
Senior Congress leader and MP Ahmed Patel, who died in the early hours on Wednesday, was seen in Karnataka as a politician who acted as a bridge between Congress leaders and the party high command. He was the party’s crisis manager in the State.
An eight-time parliamentarian, Patel, owing to his proximity to the high command, played a crucial role in installation of the JD (S)-Congress coalition government headed by H.D. Kumaraswamy soon after the fractured mandate in the 2018 Assembly elections. Mr. Patel, along with party veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad, stitched the coalition to keep the BJP out of power for more than a year.
Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has given credit to Patel for his joining the Congress 14 years ago. Speaking at a media interaction at the Press Club in 2017, Mr. Siddaramaiah had said Patel brought him to the party after he quit the JD(S) in 2006.
In his condolence message, Mr. Siddaramaiah said “Patel was responsible for a major decision in my political life. He was my well-wisher till the end.”
Patel, being political secretary to the party president for a long time, used to help the State Congress leaders in getting appointments with Ms. Sonia Gandhi. He used to communicate the State leaders’ grievances to the party’s top brass.
Patel was close to trouble-shooter and the State Congress president D.K. Shivakumar as well. Mr. Shivakumar played a crucial role in the victory of Patel in the Rajya Sabha elections in 2017 by providing accommodation to Gujarat Congress MLAs at a private resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru. To make it difficult for Patel to win the seat, the ruling BJP had made six Congress MLAs resign from the Gujarat Assembly in August 2017. Because Gujarat MLAs were provided shelter in Karnataka, Patel was able to win the election. It was soon after this episode that Mr. Shivakumar faced raids by the Income Tax Department.
Mr. Shivakumar expressed shock and grief over Patel’s death. In a tweet, he said, “Deeply saddened and shocked by the demise of AICC treasurer & one of the foremost leaders of the Congress party Shri Ahmed Patel. His steadfast loyalty & contribution to the Congress party as well as the nation was exemplary and an inspiration to us all.”
Patel used to guide and advise junior politicians in the party such as KPCC working president Saleem Ahmed on party affairs and elections.
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