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How the absence of Ahmed Patel has hurt the Congress in Gujarat

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Ahmed Patel had the ability to help the party tide through a crisis at all times, and today, as Congress slumps to probably its worst performance in Gujarat ever, the leader is conspicuous by his absence.

New Delhi, Dec 08: The year 2017 was probably the best time for the Congress to win Gujarat elections. The grand old party gave a tough fight to the BJP. Those days were, however, different as the Congress had with it Ahmed Patel, its key backroom strategist.

That year Patel had dramatically won the Rajya Sabha seat in a midnight thriller. The win had given the Congress a fresh momentum. With the help of Patel, the Congress managed to stitch alliances with Hardik Patel and Alpesh. The end result was that the Congress ended up getting 77 seats with a 41.44 per cent vote share, its highest in two decades.

Ahmed Patel

While the BJP won its sixth election, the party ended up with double digits for the first time since 1998. The BJP, with a vote share of 49.05, won 99 seats. In 2012, the BJP had a vote share of 47.85 and won 115 seats.

A lot has changed since:

A lot has, however, changed since then. The Congress had always relied heavily on the strategy of Patel. He had the ability to help the party tide through a crisis at all times. A lot has changed for the Congress especially in Gujarat following the death of the 71-year-old leader who breathed his last on 25 November 2020.

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Patel, an 8-time parliamentarian from Gujarat, was the political secretary to Sonia Gandhi. He rose from the ranks and became the most powerful person in the Congress despite never holding a ministerial position.

Many in the party are missing his presence. Patel could at any time pick up the phone and call the top leadership or someone who were upset for not getting tickets during an election. In Gujarat, he was well-versed with the nuances of all the seats. Moreover, he was a stickler for time and would plan much in advance. This time it was clear that the Congress missed Patel as the planning was no way close to what it was during the 2017 elections.

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    Patel as an asset:

    Winning was always his priority. He would look into the smallest details and manage the party well as he knew how to put things across.

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    Patel was the go-to person for everyone in the party. In the last elections, the intervention by Patel came in handy.

    The poor performance by the party in Gujarat and the lack of coordination coupled with the incapability to stitch up alliances could be largely attributed to the absence of Ahmed Patel.

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