Skip to main content

Sonia Gandhi adviser Ahmed Patel "fears" taking over Gujarat Congress' reins for poll battle with BJP in December

By Our Representative
Congress veteran Ahmed Patel may be fuming over the manner in which BJP chief Amit Shah almost snatched away his Rajya Sabha seat by ensuring that 14 of the party's 57 MLAs in the Gujarat state assembly "crossed over" against him. However, two of his recent media interviews suggest that, despite his "clout" in the Congress, he has not been able to overcome his long-standing fear in taking up the reins of the party.
Patel, 67, who hails from the South Gujarat district of Bharuch, may declare that he would "personally" take care of the 43 MLAs who voted for him in the crucial Rajya Sabha elections and see to it they are victorious in the state assembly polls scheduled in December. He may also boast that he would "ensure" Congress victory on 125 assembly seats out of 182.
But to the question as to how is he going to achieve the twin electoral "objectives", he does not seem clear. In one interview, on being asked whether he would take the active charge of the Gujarat Congress and lead from the front, given that he has set the party rank and file a target of 125 seats (in a House of 182), he says an emphatic "No", adding, at best he would be a "facilitator". In another interview, all that he says is, he would "come to Gujarat at least four times a month" to "teach BJP a lesson."
"I will keep a much closer watch and do my best possible to meet this target. I am not for Chief Ministership, if you are suggesting even something remotely like that", he tells in an answer to a probing question," he asserts. And how would he "channelise" energy into the party "since every leader in the Congress seems to be a Chief Ministerial candidate", Patel, who is considered a "key party strategist", admits: "This is a big challenge for us."
Patel has been fearing an electoral battle ever since he was defeated in 1989 by a BJP non-entity by 11,500 votes from a Lok Sabha constituency he represented thrice after 1977, Bharuch. He has refused to fight an electoral battle after 1989. Whoever asked him, informally, as to why he didn't want to fight polls, he had just one answer: It is impossible for a Muslim to win a poll in a state which is so badly communally divided.
On being asked whether he would take the active charge of the Gujarat Congress and lead from the front, Ahmed Patel replied in an emphatic "No", adding, at best he would be a "facilitator"
One who has preferred ever since to be in the Rajya Sabha, where all you need is a committed, fixed number of MLAs, guided by party whip, to vote for you, he has feared taking up the reins of the party, too. In an informal chat with way back in 1998, when asked why does he not take the charge as Gujarat Congress president, Patel repeated the argument he would "informally" give about fighting an electoral battle: That being a Muslim as Congress president would work "negatively" on the party's electoral prospects.
Meanwhile, Patel, who is better known as political adviser of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, has begun to admit that his party is in disarray. However, all that he says to set things right following the latest crisis which nearly took away his Rajya Sabha seat is: "We will need to be careful in future, keep a close watch and look into individual grievances of party leaders and MLAs." At the same time, he brushes aside the view of Jairam Ramesh that the Congress was facing an existential crisis as a "personal observation."
Asked why of all persons the Congress leader of opposition in the state assembly Shankarsinh Vaghela resigned and didn't vote for him, he just said, there is "no justification for stabbing the party in the back like this", though sounding somewhat remorseful: "We will look into the details and the genuineness of the grievances for sure". But he adds, "We learnt bitter lessons... This entire episode (of sabotage) has automatically led to purging of people whom we could not trust."
So, was it a good riddance of bad rubbish?, he is asked. And his reply is: "No, no, no, don't use such words; not bad rubbish, but those who were not the party's well-wishers have left." Patel admits, "All our people, the entire party was made to feel completely helpless by the enemies very much within us," even as suggesting thar despite the disarray, there is a "will to win alone".

Comments

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…