A picture of 1985 says it all. It shows Ahmed Patel with Arun Singh and Oscar Fernandes in a single frame along with former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi while taking oath as the parliamentary secretary. It was this stint which drew Patel close to the Gandhi family, as he rose up the ranks to become a silent operator from behind the scenes, yet one of the most powerful voices in the party after the Gandhis.
Congress leader Patel passed away on Wednesday morning at 3.30 a.m. at the age of 71 after Covid-19 related complications at a Gurugram Hospital.
Patel, Singh and Fernandes were referred to as ‘Amar, Akbar and Anthony’ following the famous Bollywood flick starring Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna and Rishi Kapoor, which was released in 1977, the year Patel was elected to the Lok Sabha. Incidentally, both the ‘Akbar’ of that film, Rishi Kapoor, and Patel left for heavenly abode in 2020.
While both Singh and Fernandes held ministrial berths, no position could lure Patel, who was known as the chief strategist weilding more power than many in the party.
While Singh fell out of favor in 1988 despite coming from a royal background and being Rajiv Gandhi’s classmate in England, Fernandes is still active in politics. But none gained the confidence of the Gandhis like Patel did. He was a master strategist who avoided media glare and did not take any post despite having worked closely with three Prime Ministers — Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh.
There were three ocassions which shaped Patel. He was fondly remembered in 1977 when ne won the lok Sabha polls despite the Janta Party wave. Then he was apppointed the parliamentary secretary to Rajiv Gandhi, while Sonia Gandhi appointed him as her political secretary.
He worked closely with Rajiv Gandhi who appointed him as the president of Gujarat Congress and also gave him responsibility of completing the Jawahar Bhawan, which he did before time.
Patel was the treasurer when the coup against then President Sitaram Kesri was engineered, and he had walked out to support Sonia Gandhi.
After the demise of Rajiv Gandhi, during Narsimha Rao’s time, it was Patel who had garnered the highest number of votes and got elected to the CWC in the Tirupati session of the party.
Many leaders who are in the party are mourning his death and recalling their association with him.