25 June, 2021

The Quiet Man

Firefighter, worker bee, Sonia loyalist...that's Ahmed Patel who's made a virtue of being a backroom boy

T. Narayan
The Quiet Man
Everyone was winding up after a long, lazy and sumptuous lunch, hosted in the capital recently by a cabinet minister, when a slightly built man walked in. Instantly, there was a stir and the minister exclaimed, "Here comes the real man!" As Ahmed Patel, a Rajya Sabha MP, but more importantly the all-powerful political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, walked in, journalists and politicians alike decided to postpone their departure. One senior politician, once considered more important than Patel, looked decidedly on edge.

Soft-spoken, smiling, with a style that can only be described as low-key, Ahmed Patel exudes neither authority nor power. Yet, ask anyone in the Congress about the current pecking order in the party, and you'll be told it's Ahmedbhai who comes in after Sonia Gandhi. Who is this man and what makes him so important? If he's that important, why isn't he a minister? Why don't we hear very much about him?

Well, that, party insiders say, is his USP. Being low-profile, media-shy and, above all, discreet. Unlike most politicians who gravitate...

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