People to watch out for: Ahmed Patel to remain Cong's key strategist
The win in the Jharkhand Assembly polls and the government formation in Maharashtra are widely credited to Congress leader Ahmed Patel, known for his political acumen and negotiating and strategy-making skills.
Widely perceived as number two in the party till the elevation of Rahul Gandhi as party chief, he has the ear of interim President Sonia Gandhi of whom he is considered a staunch loyalist since long.
He has been also instrumental in many key party decisions after her return, including tying with once adversary Shiv Sena to form the Maharashtra government, after the Sena fell out with its long-time ally BJP.
Making his profile as shrewd backroom manager, Patel now often makes his intervention known in public through media while taking on the government on different issues. He is also quite active on social media platforms. But many in Congress know him most for his nuanced and political astuteness as he takes mature steps to draw up the party's strategy.
In Jharkhand, the main strategy from finalising the alliance with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Rashtriya Janata Dal and devising the poll issues was made by Patel and implemented in the ground by state in-charge and former Union Minister R.P.N. Singh. Patel's stamp could be seen, as during the campaigning, the party did not fall into the BJP's trap by reacting on national issues but kept the focus on the local issues which yielded it dividends.
Patel is also the main fund-raiser for the Congress which is also facing a financial crunch since the UPA lost power in 2014 and the party often does not have enough resources to combat the BJP. In coming times, the party will be more dependent on him for this sole reason as Congress does not have any one else who can generate resources for the party.
Party leaders seen as close to him are now at the helm in Congress-ruled states, including Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayansamy. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath is also in his peer group, and it was Patel who convinced Sonia Gandhi to give the reins of the party to former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in Haryana, where the party considerably bettered its performance since 2014.IANS