Politicians across party lines in Maharashtra paid tribute to Rajya Sabha member and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, 71, who died on Wednesday after a prolonged battle with complications of COVID-19. Patel had played a key role in the formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government by ensuring that the Congress joined hands with the Shiv Sena to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party out of power.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said not only the Congress but also the MVA has lost its guide. “The Congress party has lost its Chanakya, who would stand by the party to face every challenge. He was actively involved in social work besides his political engagements. His guidance and experience helped us a lot while forming the three-party alliance, which formed the government in Maharashtra last year,” Mr. Thackeray said. His son and Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray said in his interaction with Patel over the past year, he found that he was accommodative, open to ideas and had different perspectives.
The Maharashtra unit of the Congress paid homage to the senior leader at the party headquarters, Gandhi Bhavan. “He dedicated his entire life to the Congress party. He was firm in his positions. His priority was the party interest and he never cut communication lines with anyone. He played a key role in forming the MVA government and guiding us all,” said State Congress president Balasaheb Thorat.
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, who spent many years with Patel in national politics, said he was saddened by the news. “His contribution to Congress will always be remembered,” he said. It was the Congress delegation led by Patel which had visited Maharashtra last November to hold talks with Mr. Pawar, who played the leading role in stitching together an alliance with the Sena and the Congress, which seemed impossible on paper.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader Raj Thackeray said Patel’s greatness lay in the fact that he never used his sharp mind to settle personal grudges. “The veteran Congress leader passed away this morning. He was exceptionally astute and a sharp leader. These qualities helped him in upping his political grasp to the level of a game of chess and he made sure that his moves were matchless and he emerged victoriously. But his greatness lies in the fact that he never used his sharp mind to settle personal grudges. In fact, he remained above all this and only focussed on the betterment of his party. This made him stand out, across party lines, as an amicable leader, and he valued his relationships with all,” the MNS chief said.