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Congress’s CPU

india Updated: May 15, 2009 00:35 IST
Hindustan Times
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Ahmed Patel
Ahmed Patel
Ahmad Patel, 59 | Congress

USP: Authority as the sole political secretary to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

Personality: Patel is

soft-spoken, rarely loses his temper, is willing to talk to anyone, but rarely says anything

Signature: His ageing Maruti Esteem, No 77, always sits in front, next to the driver.
In 2004, political secretary to Congress president Ahmad Patel (59) got Sharad Pawar-led NCP to give up its claim over the chief minister’s office in Maharashtra, though it had more seats than the Congress.

In July 2008, when the Left withdrew support to the government, Patel led the number hunting, and succeeded.

These are only two examples of his prowess. The central processing unit of all that the Congress does is Patel, although his demeanor doesn’t give it away, and belies the vast influence he commands within the party and outside, instead.

He is again on the prowl for another round of shopping spree.

The Congress’s contacts with potential allies take all possible forms. For instance, Ghulam Nabi Azad is the first line of contact with Tamil allies, including AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa, while Kamal Nath has a line with BJD leader Naveen Patnaik. A personal rapport is necessary, as initial contacts have to be established on personal friendships alone.

But there is no word so far whether this has been done in the case of party leader Chinta Mohan, who was close to BSP founder Kanshi Ram and is equally comfortable with Mayawati or Kishore Chandra Deo, who is counted among CPM general secretary Prakash Karat’s closest friends. Likewise, the line of communication with Nitish Kumar is through an MP from the state.

Patel processes all this information for Sonia Gandhi and helps her with the final decision. He has turned down positions in the government several times, although he has been the prime mover of Congress strategies for the last eight years.

A nocturnal being, Patel often gives appointments to party chief ministers well beyond midnight. And he is a stealth operator — always on the move, avoiding public glare.

He doesn’t come before the camera and shuns television studios like the plague. Yet, the cynical scribe doesn’t hold it against him. For, he talks to them all, giving away nothing, though.