An era has come to an end with Ahmed Patel's demise. Ahmed Patel was Congress party's 'sankatmochak', fondly called as Ahmed bhai or AP. He was a leader who was always available and accessable, not only for the netas but reporters as well.
For a Congress reporter, AP was the final authority when it came to confirmation on any information regarding the Congress party. However, his response to a reporter's query would come only post midnight. And there was no question of it going wrong ever. He would always respond to the messages or calls that he would get from people.
Unlike many leaders of today's Congress, AP would always ensure that no message or phone call ever got unanswered. It was never a surprise to get a call or a message from him in the wee hours.
I remember getting a call from him during the first lockdown, enquiring about my and family's wellbeing. He called every Congress beat reporter and enquired about their health and their families. Infact, he was the only Congress leader to do this. He asked me to be wary of the deadly virus and take all precautions. Back then, little did I know that he would himself become a prey to this cruel virus.
With his demise, a chapter has gotten over in the Congress. Apart from the Gandhis, he was the only leader who had an acceptability across the country, and amongst all the Congressmen. He was not a man whom you would see giving TV interviews and taking credit for the issues that he had resolved. Infact most often he would tell us not to use his name while reporting the story. He might not have been visible on television but behind the curtains, he was THE man, who ran the show for the Congress party for more than a decade.
Just a day before his demise, a senior leader told me "this man's hospitalisation at this moment is not good for us". He was someone who could make two warring factions of the party come on one table. He acted as a bridge between the young and the old guard of the Congress party, a leader who was friends with many in the old guard and was regarded and respected by the young ones too.
His demise brings the era of Sonia Gandhi's politics in Congress to an end, but Congress perhaps need an Ahmed Patel more than ever. Party is at the crossroads where seniors are finding fault with the present day Congress and juniors are also feeling directionless. Congress needs a leader which can bring the grand-old-party and its leaders on one platform again.