Congress veteran Ahmed Patel's death has been described as a "personal loss" by several senior party leaders as many of them recalled their memories with the 71-year-old Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, who died at a Gurgaon hospital early this morning. He was like a "pillar" and "stood for the party in difficult times", ex-party chief Rahul Gandhi wrote in a tweet, as his mother - Sonia Gandhi - said she had lost an "irreplaceable comrade, faithful colleague and friend". Ahmed Patel was one of the closest aides for Ms Gandhi.
In her tribute, Ms Gandhi said: "His commitment to his duty, his always being there to help, his generosity were rare qualities that distinguished him from others."
Ahmed Patel, who represented Gujarat eight times in parliament, rose up the ranks in Congress in the last four decades of his political career. He had tested positive for the highly contagious coronavirus, which has affected over 92 lakh people in India so far, on October 1. He was admitted to ICU of Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon on November 15, his son Faisal Patel said.
Mr Patel died at 3:30 am. "He lived and breathed Congress and stood with the party through its most difficult times. He was a tremendous asset," Rahul Gandhi, 50, wrote on Twitter. In his letter to Ahmed Patel's son, Faisal Patel, Mr Gandhi said: "I will miss his wisdom, his intellect and his unwavevering commitment. He will continue to guide us and inspire us."
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, his sister, said "he was not only a wise and experienced colleague to whom she constantly turned for advice and counsel, but also a friend who stood by us all".
It is a sad day. Shri Ahmed Patel was a pillar of the Congress party. He lived and breathed Congress and stood with the party through its most difficult times. He was a tremendous asset.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) November 25, 2020
We will miss him. My love and condolences to Faisal, Mumtaz & the family. pic.twitter.com/sZaOXOIMEX
Ahmed Patel had tweeted last month that he had tested positive for coronavirus, which has affected over 92 lakh people in India. He was admitted to the ICU of Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon on November 15. "After testing positive for COVID-19 around a month back, his health worsened further due to multiple organ failures," Faisal Patel, his son, said this morning.
There were many other senior leaders who shared their grief in tweets. "He was a friend in the truest sense, loyal to the party and his colleagues, always willing to help and always there when one needed him. Whence do we find another like him?" former Union Minister said P Chidambaram tweeted.
Deeply shocked and saddened to learn that my dear friend Ahmed Patel passed away in the early hours of today— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) November 25, 2020
I offer my tribute to his memory and convey my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved family.— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) November 25, 2020
May Ahmedji rest in eternal peace
While Kapil Sibal called him Congress's "Northern Star", Kerala MP Shashi Tharoor remembered him as "Mr Politics".
"I never thought you''ll go so soon. Will feel the loss for long. Congress has lost its Northern Star who guided it for long, dotted the i''s, untied the knots when Congress needed help. For you the Party was your first love, you never thought of self ''Alvida Ahmadbhai''," Mr Sibal wrote.
Deeply saddened by the passing away of Ahmedbhai . I am personally aggrieved because of our long and steadfast friendship. He was central to the functioning of the Congress Party . His seminal contribution to its well-being will always be remembered. May his soul rest in peace .— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) November 25, 2020
I never thought— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) November 25, 2020
you'll go so soon
will feel the loss
Congress has lost
It's Northern Star
who guided it
dotted the i's
untied the knots
for you the Party
was your first love
you never thought
"A formidable political figure, a man of profound intelligence & prodigious memory. His extraordinary range of knowledge, considerable understanding & sharp instincts made him ''Mr Politics'' to many in @incIndia. A shattering loss for secular politics," Mr Tharoor tweeted.
Deeply saddened by this news. A formidable political figure, a man of profound intelligence & prodigious memory. His extraordinary range of knowledge, considerable understanding & sharp instincts made him "Mr Politics" to many in @incIndia. A shattering loss for secular politics. https://t.co/Zhi2q0seyR— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) November 25, 2020
Ex-Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said his death was a "horrendous blow" to the Congress.
Mr Patel is the second senior party leader to die this week. Ex-Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi had died on Monday. Among others who paid rich tributes were chief ministers of Congress-ruled states Rajasthan and Punjab - Ashok Gehlot and Captain Amarinder Singh.
Shocked & saddened to learn about the untimely passing away of senior Congress leader & friend #AhmedPatel ji. He was a dedicated worker, strong anchor of our party & steered it through difficult times. My heartfelt condolences to his family, friends & workers. We will miss you. pic.twitter.com/0nb5NaH4ZZ— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) November 25, 2020
Deeply saddened and shocked to learn about the untimely passing away of veteran Congress leader & friend Sh. #AhmedPatel ji. It is a great loss for Congress Party and all Congress workers like me. His contribution to the party will always be remembered.— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) November 25, 2020
Ahmed Patel Sahab's demise is an irreparable loss to the Nation... A Statesman, Game-Changer who will leave a great void in the Political Scenario... 1/2 pic.twitter.com/CNVzStg5jm— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) November 25, 2020
I am shocked to know about the sad demise of of my close friend for years senior Congress leader Mr. Ahmed Patel.— Office Of Kamal Nath (@OfficeOfKNath) November 25, 2020
It is a personal loss to me. His untimely death is such a loss for the congress family that can never be fulfilled.
My condolences to the family. pic.twitter.com/7e5zm8jQl6
Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh said he "lost the most reliable friend". "We were together since 1977, he entered the Lok Sabha while I reached the Vidhan Sabha. For all Congressmen, he always had a medicine for all political ailments.
"I am shocked to know about the sad demise of of my close friend for years senior Congress leader Mr. Ahmed Patel. It is a personal loss to me. His untimely death is such a loss for the congress family that can never be fulfilled. My condolences to the family," senior party leader Kamal Nath wrote. Navjot Singh Sidhu also shared an old picture with him.