Supreme Court has delivered a blow to Rajya Sabha MP and Gandhi family’s top aide Ahmed Patel, by declining to stay the Gujarat High Court’s order to initiate a trial in relation to his 2017 Rajya Sabha elections. An election petition was filed by Balwantsinh Rajput in Gujrat High court challenging Elections Commission’s decision of invalidating two votes, which had led to Patel’s victory and Rajput’s defeat in Gujarat Rajya Sabha election.
Ahmed Patel is political secretary of Sonia Gandhi and regarded as Gandhi family’s top loyalist. He is credited to be Congress’ brain behind, party’s election win in general elections of 2004 and 2009. He has thrice been elected as MLA, and four times as Rajya Sabha MP. His career is marred with many controversies and is allegedly involved in many scams, getting probed by agencies.
Last year, CBI and ED booked Gujarat based Sterling Biotech’s directors Nitin, Chetna and Dipti Sandesara, for their alleged involvement in fraud with a consortium of banks led by Andhra Bank to the tune of Rs 5500 crore. As the Enforcement Directorate tightened its investigation, Ahmed Patel’s association in this case resurfaced. In August last year, ED produced a man named Ranjit Malik before the duty magistrate of a Delhi court, for allegedly sending Rs 25 lakh cash to the official residence of Ahmed Patel. An employee of Sandesara group, Sunil Yadav too has alleged the involvement of Patel, his son, Faisal Patel, and his son-in-law, Irfan Siddiqui in the same fraud.
Patel’s alleged involvement in scams is by no means limited to Sandesara group scam. His name also popped during the investigation of the UPA-era August Westland Scam. One diary recovered from middleman Michel had some notes which reportedly indicate recipients of the bribe paid to secure the deal. There were references to “AP”, “FAM”, “Pol”, “Bur”, “DG Acq”, “AF” etc under the heading “budget expenditure items” in the diary, allegedly a note of people who were paid bribes. After Micheal was extradited to India, during custody, he made many explosive confessions to ED. In of the confession, he identified the notings in the diary and said that the AP refers to Ahmed Patel.
Ahmed Patel’s election to Rajya Sabha was marred with controversies and high-voltage drama. Three seats of Rajya Sabha from Gujrat were going to the election, for which four candidates had filed nomination. From BJP, President Amit Shah, Union Minister Smriti Irani and former Chief Whip of Congress Balwantsinh Rajput filed nomination. From Congress, Ahmed Patel contested. Before elections, the total strength of Congress MLAs reduced from 57 to 52, after many MLAs had defected to BJP, including Balwantsinh.
In a desperate move, to prevent defection of other MLAs, Congress party packed and deported 44 MLAs to a lavish resort at Bangalore. They were brought back to Gandhinagar on the polling day. This move was severely criticised, as Gujarat at that time was battling with severe floods, and Congress MLAs were seen as enjoying at resorts. During the counting of votes, Congress leaders complained to Election Commision that two votes of Congress MLAs should be invalidated, citing a technical issue. The complaint was deemed valid by EC and total votes required to win came down to 44 from 45, and eventually, Patel won.
The invalidation of votes by EC was challenged by Balwantsinh Rajput, who lost against Ahmed Patel. In April last year, the court dismissed Patel’s plea demanding the dismissal of Rajput’s election petition. Rajput had also accused Patel of indulging in malpractices. Ahmed Patel, then approached the Supreme Court, where the court upheld the High Court’s order.
Last year in December, after assembly elections, Rahul Gandhi tried to deliver an impromptu speech outside parliament, praising efforts towards farm loan waivers by newly elected Congress governments. Before, addressing media, Gandhi was seen getting tutored by his top aide including Ahmed Patel.
Union Minister Smriti Irani had taken to Twitter, to take a dig at Gandhi.
आजकल सपना दिखाने के लिए भी ट्यूशन लेनी पड़ती है ??? pic.twitter.com/Z6ZL3MOQhq
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) December 18, 2018
Being a loyalist of Gandhi family, Patel’s name popping up in so many scandals and also in election malpractices can surely deliver a blow to Gandhi family’s credibility.
Petel was represented by senior Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi in the court. SC will hear the case next month and has directed High Court to initiate trails, taking Rajput’s election petition in consideration.