Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel was a “personal friend” for many in the world of politics and business and tributes poured in from a cross section of society as he breathed his last at a private hospital on Wednesday morning.
“I regret to announce the sad and untimely demise of my father, Mr Ahmed Patel at 25/11/2020, 3:30 a.m. After testing positive for Covid-19 around a month back, his health worsened further due to multiple organ failure,” Faisal Patel, the veteran leader’s son, said in a statement.
President Ram Nath Kovind described Patel as an “astute parliamentarian” who had friends across party lines, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed him as a “sharp mind” and remembered his role in strengthening the Congress party.
“Saddened by the demise of Ahmed Patel Ji. 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 said.
Sonia Gandhi said she had lost a colleague whose entire life was dedicated to the Congress party.
“His faithfulness and dedication, his commitment to his duty, his always being there to help, his generosity were rare qualities that distinguished him from others,” Gandhi said in her condolence message for Patel, who served as her political secretary for 16 years.
“I have lost an irreplaceable comrade, a faithful colleague and a friend,” the Congress president said.
The demise of Patel, a key troubleshooter for the Congress, comes at a time when the party is facing its worst ever crisis after successive election losses.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Patel as the “undisputed leader” of the Congress. “Ahmed Patel was one of the most trusted leader of the Congress party and a great friend of mine. His passing away is an irreparable loss to the Congress party,” Singh said.
Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi offered tributes to the departed leader at his official 23, Mother Teresa Crescent residence, which was the hub of political activity during his tenure as political secretary to Sonia Gandhi.
Rahul is scheduled to travel to Gujarat on Thursday to attend the last rites of Patel at his ancestral home in Piraman village near Bharuch.
“Ahmed ji was not only a wise and experienced colleague to whom I constantly turned for advice and counsel, he was a friend who stood by us all, steadfast, loyal, and dependable to the end. His passing away leaves an immense void,” Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said.
“RIP Ahmedbhai Patel. Your contributions in strengthening the Congress Party will be remembered forever, as will your selfless dedication towards public life,” industrialist Gautam Adani said.
Teary eyed Congress leaders thronged Patel’s official residence to offer last tributes to the departed leader.