In the history of corridors of power play in Delhi, Congress leader Ahmed Patel's name will be certainly in the pages of mortals anointed with some kind of immortality. The politicial secretary to AICC president - over the years - has emerged a key king maker and a master strategist in the art of backroom operation.Master strategist Ahmed Patel now faces his moment of truth in RS elections
It is said during crictial parliamentary voting during UPA regime, the BSP leaders Mayawati or Satish Chandra Mishra or Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav actually used to wait for Ahmed Patel's phone. On one occasion - the high voltage late night debate
on Lokpal Bill --- one senior Samajwadi Party was frank to admit to newspersons "Ahmed Patel ka phone aa gaya, now you all can go" -- perhaps meaning the decision has been made.
In 2002 when Sonia Gandhi named Ahmed Patel as political secretary --- in effect he shared the responsibility with Ambika Soni. Many Congress leaders thought Congress chief had kept Ahmed Patel only for an interim period as she wanted to give subtle message to the minorities in Gujarat and in time to come Ambika Soni would survive of the two.
But just the opposite happened. Though Ambika interpreted Congress President's mind in off-record debriefing and also became Information and Broadcasting Minister in UPA-II -- slowly she faded away while a man who shunned media Ahmed Patel survived.
"He became virtual number three after Rahul Gandhi....This was more than a gatekeeper," says a former Minister in Manmohan Singh government. But over the years Ahmed Patel's rise also led to speculation that perhaps he also had nexus with a powerful section in the BJP as -- never in between 2002 and 2014 -- in as many as three assembly elections - Congress could actually give electoral contest to Narendra Modi.
The former Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela often complained that many a times his recommendations were overruled and candidates perceived "weak" were fielded. "None bothered Vaghela more than Ahmed Patel," used to be often a refrain in 2007 and 2012 assembly polls
in the state.
After Vaghela quit Congress last month, former cop Sanjiv Bhatt also flayed the Congress party for pushing his ouster. Ahmedabad-based lawyer Yatin Oza in fact told a TV channel during last week's 'Gujarat MLAs' controversy that: "Ahmed Patel was the official liquidator of Congress party in Gujarat".
"Vaghela's crime was that he wanted to fight the BJP in Gujarat against the designs of the coterie that has hamstrung Mrs Gandhi and Rahul," Mr Bhatt wrote in a series of tweets.
Mr Bhatt had often taken on Narendra Modi over 2002 mayhem and his wife Shweta Bhatt was fielded as Congress candidate in Maninagar Assembly seat in 2012 Assembly polls against Mr Modi. "Congress continues to be metastasized from within by the same coterie that brokered the bail of Amit Shah in Sohrabuddin Case during UPA-2," Mr Bhatt had written
The Congress strength in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly has slashed to 51 from 57 as six legislators have quit the party. The Congress claims to have the support of the requisite 45 MLAs required to ensure Ahmed Patel's victory, but the BJP camp has said that such attempts would fail.
“The BJP will win three seats and Ahmed Patel will definitely lose,” Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said in Ahmedabad.
BJP national president Amit Shah is more than keen to humble Sonia Gandhi's trusted aide in his home turf tomorrow.
Mr Ahmed Patel is seeking re-election to the Upper House for the fifth term.
A section of Gujarat BJP leaders are working overtime to ensure the defeat of Ahmed Patel, whose ascendancy as Sonia Gandhi's 'eyes and ears' coincided with the mayhem of 2002.