GANDHINAGAR – Ahmed Patel meant ‘Har Marz Ki Dava’ for those Congressmen and leaders who had risen with him in the party. Now they feel a big vacuum in the absence of Patel, there is no leader to guide and address the party’s problems and the challenges it is facing in the Gujarat Assembly elections 2022, said Congress leaders.
The late Ahmed Patel’s political career started in 1976 when he contested local body elections for the first time. Then he joined the Youth Congress. In 1977 Indira Gandhi fielded him from the Bharuch Lok Sabha constituency, from where he got elected thrice in 1977, 1980 and 1984 but lost in 1989 and 1991. In 1985, the party leadership appointed him the Gujarat Congress president where he served for three years.
At a very young age Patel became advisor to the party president and helped to resolve and address political crises from time to time.
“A soft spoken leader, sitting in Delhi, but his ears were on the ground, he used to keep in touch with the smallest workers and leaders at the taluka and town level, everyone’s opinion was important for him,” remembers Yunus Patel, Gujarat Congress vice president.
How was he different from other leaders? Answers Congress senior leader Gaurav Pandya, “Ahmedbhai believed in meticulous planning, he would start preparing for assembly or any other elections almost a year and a half or two before, in which he use to prepare campaign strategy, who will campaign when and where, which national leader, celebrity or actor will campaign, that too was planned and discussed by him.”
Patel was in touch with the lowest party workers and leaders, he attended their social and family events. Because of his personal touch, it used to be easy for him to win the hearts of the cadre, convince them to either contest elections or withdraw, said Himmatsinh Patel, working president of the Congress, who had worked closely with Ahmed Patel in Ahmedabad.
Though outsiders were only seeing him as a Muslim leader, Congressmen knew well that he was over and above caste, community and creed, which made him the darling of all communities, which is why his words were taken seriously and followed by everyone in the party.
Pandya says he was the bridge between the state and central leadership, his presence helped in getting national leaders to campaign in the state. Once he asked no leader could refuse while today the state has to struggle to get national leaders to campaign. At the state level he distributed work to all, everyone used to feel involved that they were contributing to the party. That feeling is missing today.
Till he was alive the AIMIM had never dared to contest elections in Gujarat, one may call it his personal relationship with the AIMIM leadership or his influence. Now when Patel is not there, the AIMIM is fighting the state election, making it tough for the Congress. This shows how big he was and how his vacuum is being felt by the party, said Gulabkhan Rayma, Congress state general secretary.
Ahmedbhai’s biggest strength was damage control, be it independent candidates or a rebellion in the party. His one call was enough, he also knew very well whom to reach and how to convince them because of which the party candidates faced the minimum challenges. Before selecting candidates, even from Delhi, Patel would speak and try to get feedback from the taluka presidents, district or city presidents and officials, because of which there were less revolts against the party decision, said Yunus Patel.
When the party faces a fund crunch Patel is always remembered. Till he was alive the Gujarat unit never faced funds shortage, said Yunus. -IANS