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|Member of Parliament for
|Preceded by||Chandubhai Deshmukh|
|Succeeded by||Mansinhji Rana|
|Member of Parliament for
21 August 1949 |
Bharuch, Gujarat, India
|Political party||Indian National Congress|
|Residence||23, Mother Teresa Crescent|
|Alma mater||South Gujarat University
Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda
Ahmed Patel (born 21 August 1949) is a Member of Parliament in India. He is the key political strategist and one of the senior leaders in the Indian National Congress party. He is widely credited with the party’s performance in the 2004 and 2009 General elections. Presently Patel is the Political Secretary of the Congress President Sonia Gandhi., since 2001.
Patel has risen through ranks and files of the Congress Party to emerge as one of the most powerful politicians in India. He is active in politics by contesting local body elections in the Bharuch District of Gujarat in 1976. Since then, he has virtually occupied every major position in the party’s state and central wings. Patel has represented Gujarat seven times in the Parliament of India, three times in the lower house or Lok Sabha (1977 – 1989) and four times in the Upper House or Rajya Sabha (1993 till Present). As of date he is the only Muslim parliamentarian from the state of Gujarat.
During the UPA Government regime between 2004 and 2014, Patel was one of the chief troubleshooters and coordinators between the government and party. He is known to keep a low profile and rarely interacts with the media. Apart from politics, Patel is extensively involved in philanthropic and charitable activities, particularly in his home district of Bharuch.
Ahmed Patel was born on 21 August 1949 into a Bharuch based agriculturalist family, as the third child of Mohammed Ishakji Patel and Hawaben Mohammedbhai. Mohammed Ishakji was one of the pioneers of South Gujarat’s cooperative union movement in the 1960s to prevent exploitation of small borrowers by private moneylenders, who would charge exorbitant interest rates.
Patel did his bachelor’s degree from JayendraPuri Arts and Science College, Bharuch (South Gujarat University). He was an active sportsman during his early days and captained from his college cricket and badminton tournaments. It was during his college days that Patel got involved into public life by assisting his father in the cooperative bank movement. Inspired by the cooperative model, Patel administered Bharuch’s dairy cooperative in the early 1970s. In 1976 Patel married Memoona Patel. Memoona belonged to a Gujarati trader family who settled in Myanmar. Memoona comes from a family of freedom fighters who worked closely with Netaji Subhash Chandra Boses's activities in Myanmar and Congress’s Seva Dal.
In 2005, Ahmed Patel was inducted into the Rajya Sabha for his fourth term. Though considered Sonia Gandhi's chief strategist, he chose to keep out of government in the 14th and 15thLok Sabha. He maintains a low profile and avoids media and public glare. Patel is the only second Muslim after Ehsan Jafri to be elected as an Lok Sabha MP. in Gujarat. He is one of the few politicians who were spotted by Sanjay Gandhi, but continued to wield their clout with Indira, Rajiv, and now Sonia. He is also called the 'Number 2 powerful' in Congress Party.
Early Political Career
At the age of 27, in 1976 Patel contested and won the local body elections from his village on a Congress ticket. As his village representative, Patel successfully implemented the Indira Awas Yojna, which was meant to increase house ownership of underprivileged tribal. The scheme involved a government subsidy of close to 80% and Patel assisted tribal to secure the additional 20%. His administrative and political acumen was noticed by Sanjay Gandhi, who was instrumental in his appointment as Vice President of the District Youth Congress in 1975. At the age of 27, in 1976 Ahmed Patel contested and won the local body elections in Taluka Panchayat from his village.
In 1977, in the first general elections after the Emergency, Patel was given a Congress ticket from the Bharuch Lok Sabha constituency. In that election he was one of the 153 parliamentarians elected on a Congress ticket, which at that point of time turned out to the party’s worst performance since independence.
Rise in the Congress Party ( 1977 – 2001 )
Ahmed Patel went on to represent Bharuch in the Lok Sabha for the subsequent two general elections. After his first victory in the Lok Sabha elections, Patel became the President of the Gujarat Youth Congress and served in that position until 1981. He also was the person from the minority community to head the state’s youth congress. During his five-year tenure the State Youth Congress played a key role in implementing the five point agenda of Sanjay Gandhi to promote adult literacy.
His non controversial personality and growing clout with the Gandhi family resulted in his rapid ascension in the Congress. In 1982 he made a formal entry in the party’s central organization by becoming its Joint Secretary. During his tenure as Joint Secretary he along with Rajiv Gandhi initiated a mass contact program in Punjab, which was then reeling under terrorism.
In the 1984 elections, Patel won the Bharuch Parliamentary constituency for a second consecutive time with a margin of over 1 lakh votes. When Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister in 1984, Patel briefly served first as his Parliamentary Secretary and was responsible to liaise between the Prime Minister’s Office and the party. The same year he also became the General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee, in charge for strengthening party affiliates like the Seva Dal and the NSUI.
Patel was asked to head Party’s Gujarat unit (GPCC) in 1986. During his two-year tenure, he mobilized party cadres during the Gujarat drought via a specially formed trust, the Gujarat Rahat Samiti. Ahmed Patel was the brainchild behind crowdsourcing funds for political purposes, a technique uncommon for its time. Under his leadership the trust raised over Rs 2.5 crore in 1988 by hosting Amitabh Bachchan concerts. The trust then used the record proceeds to adopt cattle affected by the severe drought.In 1987 he in his capacity as Member of Parliament, Patel was proactive in setting up the Narmada Management Authority to monitor the Sardar Sarovar Project.
On the occasion of Jawaharlal Nehru’s birth centenary celebration, Patel was appointed the secretary of the Jawahar Bhavan Trust in 1988. He was asked by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to supervise the construction of Jawahar Bhavan in New Delhi’s Raisina Road, a project which had been stalled for more than a decade. In a record one year, just in time for Nehru’s birth centenary celebrations, Patel successful erected Jawahar Bhavan, which was at that point a highly futuristic building equipped with computers, telephones and energy saving air conditioners. The building was constructed using funds from Congress lawmakers and partly crowd funded through one day cricket matches.
The rise of Mandal and Mandir politics dealt a severe blow to Patel's political career in 1989. During that year’s general elections he lost his Bharuch seat. The following year he once again made an unsuccessful attempt to get elected into the Rajya Sabha. Finally in 1993, he managed to enter Rajya Sabha and has been a member ever since. In 1992, Ahmed Patel became one of the youngest members to be elected to the Congress Working Committee, the party’s highest decision making body. Between 1992 and 2001, he held key positions in the party such as General Secretary and Treasurer. As General Secretary, Patel was responsible for overseeing the party’s units in Orissa, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. During his tenure, the Congress wrested control over Orissa, Punjab and Delhi.
Career As Key Congress Strategist (2001 till Date)
In 2001,three years after she became Congress President, Sonia Gandhi appointed Ahmed Patel has her political secretary. The appointment official put Patel as one of her key advisors.
During the 2002 Godhra riots, Patel initiated the parliamentary discussion on the matter in the Rajya Sabha. In 2004, he played a crucial role in forging a broad based pre-poll alliance for the UPA which saw the party coming back to power that year.
During the tenure of UPA 1 and 2, Patel emerged as the key political for the government. He intervened decisively during the 2007 and 2012 Presidential elections. He was also the main interface between the government and the Congress party. Patel was exclusively responsible for managing the government’s allies and getting them on board on critical legislations. During the 2009 election, Ahmed Patel was on the key strategists which saw the Congress coming back to power for a second consecutive time. Patel’s role as one of the senior most leaders in the party was affirmed when he has named as a part of a four-member committee to head the party in 2012, during Sonia Gandhi’s hospitalization abroad.
Among many of the positions, Patel has held over the years are:
- Secretary in the Jawahar Bhawan Trust,
- Joint Secretary in the All India Congress Committee,
- Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister,
- Treasurer to the All India Congress Committee.
In the past, Patel has served as:
- Agriculturist and managing trustee for Gujarat Rahat Samiti,
- Director of the Indian Airlines,
- General secretary for the All India Congress Committee.
Patel has been a member of:
- The Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas,
- The Committee on Subordinate Legislation,
- The Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Railways,
- The Committee on Subordinate Legislation,
- Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Civil Aviation,
- The Committee on Railways.
Ahmed Patel is married to Memoona Ahmed since 1976. The couple have a daughter and a son.
Role in Developing Bharuch
Bharuch Modern Bharuch is one of the most heavily industrialised areas. Ahmed Patel had represented the region in Parliament and had a substantial contribution in development of Bharuch district.
- In 1985, he began Ganesh Sugar factory in Bharuch. In due time, 4 sugar factories were opened which had a tremendous impact on agricultural productivity in Bharuch district.
- In 1989, he brought IPCL to Dahej village. Then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi attended the inauguration of IPCL in Dahej and the Valia Petrofac Foundation on the same day. Post this, Ahmed Patel focused on bringing other petrochemical accessory companies in the surrounding regions.
- Patel is also credited with developing local railway network in Bharuch district. Madhavrao Scindia, the then Railway Minister inaugurated Ankleshwar station in 1989. 2 routes from Ankleshwar to Rajpipla & Bharuch to Dahej were upgraded from narrow to broad gauge. The railway season ticket concept was also introduced. Expanding the rail network in the district had a multiplier effect on the region’s economy in terms of movement of goods and labor.
- In the 1980s Patel lobbied extensively to expand the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation ( GIDC) township in Ankleshwar. Consequently Ankleshwar GIDC emerged as one of Asia’s largest industrial townships.
- Furthermore during the UPA regime, he managed to secure additional funding from the Central Government, over and above his MPLAD fund, for improving local infrastructure.
- In 2005, Ahmed Patel had got Bharuch included as one of the first five districts to be covered under the then launched Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, to boost electrification in the district. The Sardar Patel bridge to decongest traffic between the twin cities of Bharuch and Ankleshwar has been one of his contributions to the region. He has also been instrumental in getting the ESIC Hospital and the Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI) campus in Bharuch district. The FDDI institute will be the first of its kind in Gujarat.
The BJP Prime Ministerial candidate, Mr. Narendra Modi, claimed in an interview to Doordorshan that Ahmed Patel used to visit his house frequently. Narendra Modi said that these claims were edited out by the government sponsored channel. In a strong response to an interview with NDTV, Patel has rebutted these allegations by saying that he has never visited Modi's house and also vowed to quit public life if claims were proven to be true. He added that Mr. Modi does not have cordial relationships with his colleagues in his own party then why would he share good bonds with a rival party member.
- Congress likely to field ex-MLA Rasheedaben from Bharuch – Express India
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