New Delhi, Aug 8, 2017: From ‘Ahmedbhai’ to joint secretary, Ahmed Patel hung on to his Rajya Sabha seat in Gujarat to serve a fifth consecutive term after winning a crucial elections.
His narrow win gives the grand old party a much-needed boost.
Patel, a rare Indian politician who shuns the limelight and lure of TV cameras, actually changed the balls in the court after becoming the centre of attention and attraction in political ring.
Rajya Sabha polls who always just held for formality, become a issue of prestige for Patel this time after the series of last-minute defections from the party.
Apart from being a member of the Congress’ old guard, Patel is a prime figure in Gujarat as he is one of the only two Muslims to have been elected from the Lok Sabha in Gujarat. The other Muslim MP was Ahmed’s late Congress colleague, Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
When the anti-Congress wave swept India in the 1977 general elections, 26-years-old Patel was elected to Lok Sabha. He won the next two Lok Sabha elections from Bharuch.
Early days, ‘Ahmedbhai’ never aspired for ministerial positions. During the early 80s, he became close to Rajiv Gandhi who was being playing a larger and important role in national politics.
But after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi came to power Patel was quickly promoted and made joint secretary of Congress. Soon afterwards, he became the parliamentary secretary of the prime minister and later the General Secretary of Congress.
After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in 1991, Patel retained his heft. He was elected as a member of the Rajya Sabha for the first time in 1993 and served as the treasurer of All India Congress Committee from 1996 to 2000.
Patel also became the secretary of the Congress think-tank Jawahar Bhavan Trust, a brainchild of Rajiv Gandhi that was backed by Sonia Gandhi. This role brought him closer to Sonia Gandhi, who took over the party in the late 90s and eventually appointed Patel as her Political Secretary.
Patel has also served in several positions within committees of many ministries such as Petroleum and Chemicals, Aviation, Human Resource Development ministry during the Congress’s tenure at the Centre.