Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel passed away in the wee hours of Wednesday after a lengthy battle with COVID-19 and subsequent ailments. He was 71. Patel, also the Treasurer of the Indian National Congress, had tested positive for the COVID-19 on October 1 and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of Medanta Hospital in Gurugram on November 15.
The announcement was made on social media by his son Faisal who said that the well known politician had suffered a multi-organ failure and his condition had gradually deteriorated over the last month. "I request all well wishers to adhere to COVID-19 law and order regulations by avoiding any mass gatherings and to also maintain social distancing norms at all times," he urged.
Following the news, political leaders from across party lines have condoled Patel's death. With a career spanning around two decades, Ahmed Patel had been an influential figure in political circles. Beginning by contesting local body elections in Gujarat's Bharuch 1976 under the guidance of Indira Gandhi, he would go on to hold most of the major positions in the party's state and central wings, and working with multiple Prime Ministers and party Presidents. He was the Parliamentary Secretary to Rajiv Gandhi more recently, a political secretary to Sonia Gandhi. Patel was a multi-term parliamentarian who for the most part acted as a liason between the party and the government.
Reacting to his passing on Wednesday, Prime Minister Modi said that he was "saddened" by the news. "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," Modi tweeted.
Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu said that Patel had been an able parliamentarian who "always maintained cordial relations with leaders across the political spectrum".
Similar sentiments were echoed by many from within the ranks of the Congress, who looked back at their personal experiences with Patel and lauded him for his work.
"It is a sad day. 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. He was a tremendous asset. We will miss him. My love and condolences to Faisal, Mumtaz and the family," wrote Rahul Gandhi.
His sister and fellow party leader Priyanka Gandhi expressed condolence to the family and said that Patel would be missed immensely.
"Deeply saddened and shocked to learn about the untimely passing away of veteran Congress leader & friend Sh. #AhmedPatel ji. It is a great loss for Congress Party and all Congress workers like me. His contribution to the party will always be remembered," tweeted Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
"My heartfelt condolences to his family members, friends and supporters in this most difficult time. May God give them strength to bear this loss. May his soul rest in peace," he added.
Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh called Patel the "medicine of every political disease" and noted that the latter had been a close friend. "Ahmed Patel is no more. An integral friend and reliable companion has gone. We both stayed together since 1977. He reached the Lok Sabha, I the Vidhan Sabha. For all Congressmen, he was the medicine of every political disease. Soft-spoken, tactful and always smiling was his identity," Singh said in a tweet.
In another tweet, Singh said that Patel's contribution will never be forgotten by the Congress party. "No matter how angry one goes to him, he had this ability to send one after satisfaction. Away from the media, but involved in every decision of the Congress. It could be learned from him, how to say bitter words in good taste. The Congress party can never forget his contribution. Ahmad bhai be immortal," he wrote.
Take a look at some of the other tweets shared on Wednesday morning: