Former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel has died in his home state at 92 years of age. The former CM, a veteran Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh member and Bharatiya Janata Party politician had been the chief minister of Gujarat for two terms.
According to a news flash by India Today, Patel complained of breathing difficulty on Thursday morning and was rushed to a hospital in Ahmedabad, where he passed away. News reports stated that he had tested positive for Covid-19 in September. According to a report in The Times of India, Patel had been asymptomatic when he was diagnosed with Covid-19. News 18 reported that Patel underwent a Covid-19 test in September after one of his attendants was detected with the infection.
Patel had served as the chief minister of Gujarat in 1995, and then was in office again from 1998 to 2001. He was succeeded as CM by Narendra Modi.
— Deepal.Trivedi (@DeepalTrevedie) October 29, 2020
His political ‘legacy’ in Gujarat was covered with on ground reporting in Communalism Cobat’s cover story of April 2000 titled: Face to Face with Fascism.
It details the blatant misuse of government machinery and the throttling of democracy in Gujarat. Gujarat chief minister, Keshubhai Patel, was the one who had lifted the ban on government servants joining the RSS, however, he was compelled to revoke the decision a month later, after the nation-wide outcry on the issue. However it had allowed the RSS to hold a massive sankalp shibir on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in January 2000 attended by 30,000 people.
Communalism Combat reported how CM Patel, union home minister, L.K. Advani, eight state cabinet ministers participated, and 5,000 government officials also attended. The event was facilitated by the state government providing free public amenities, including transport, water and electricity.
The legacy of right-wing organisations working closely with BJP has continued 20 years later. And instances of public servants, and retired army personnel joining politics, or amplifying BJP and RSS politics online continues to grow.
Patel was born in Visavadar town of Junagadh district in 1928, Patel joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1945, and rose in the ranks to join the Jan Sangh in 1960s and later the BJP. He had been elected to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly six times, he quit the BJP in 2012 and floated his own political party — Gujarat Parivartan Party, which did poorly in 2012 Gujarat assembly elections. As noted in the TV 18 news reports the party was expanded with the merging of the Mahagujarat Janata Party but then merged back with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in February 2014. Patel had resigned from the Visavadar assembly seat in 2014 citing ill health.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condoled the death of his one time mentor stating:
Keshubhai mentored and groomed many younger Karyakartas including me… His demise is an irreparable loss…”
Keshubhai mentored and groomed many younger Karyakartas including me. Everyone loved his affable nature. His demise is an irreparable loss. We are all grieving today. My thoughts are with his family and well-wishers. Spoke to his son Bharat and expressed condolences. Om Shanti. pic.twitter.com/p9HF3D5b7y
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 29, 2020