Former Gujarat CM Keshubhai Patel passes away at 93; President, PM pay tributes

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Last month, he had tested positive for COVID-19 and had recovered from the disease

Former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel passed away at a hospital in Ahmedabad on Thursday. He was 93.

Patel was rushed to hospital in the morning after he developed health problems. Last month, he had tested positive for COVID-19 and had recovered from the disease. The pandemic inflicted “some damage to his health, as he also suffered from cancer of the prostate,” reported The Indian Express quoting his son Bharat.

Patel will be cremated on Thursday evening. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who was campaigning in Gadhada, cut it short to rush to Gandhinagar.

Patel led the first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gujarat and had been the state’s chief minister from March 1995 to October 1995 and from March 1998 to October 2001.

Narendra Modi had succeeded him as the chief minister. Patel was a member of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly six times. In 2012, Patel quit the BJP and floated a new party —the Gujarat Parivartan Party, which performed poorly in 2012 Assembly polls. In 2014, Patel’s party merged with the BJP.

Patel was born in Visavadar town of Junagadh district in 1928. He joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1945 as a pracharak and entered into politics by joining the Jan Sangh as a worker. Patel was also the chairman of the Shree Somnath Trust, which manages the famous Somnath temple in Saurashtra region.

President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi besides other prominent leaders from various political parties expressed grief over the death of the former Gujarat chief minister.

With the demise of Keshubhai Patel, former Gujarat chief minister, the nation has lost a stalwart leader. His long public life was dedicated to improving the lives of millions, especially in villages. As champion of farmers’ causes, he enjoyed extraordinary rapport with masses, said Kovind in a tweet.

In a series of tweets, Modi said. "Our beloved and respected Keshubhai has passed away…I am deeply pained and saddened. He was an outstanding leader who cared for every section of society. His life was devoted towards the progress of Gujarat and the empowerment of every Gujarati.

Keshubhai travelled across the length and breadth of Gujarat to strengthen the Jana Sangh and BJP. He resisted the Emergency tooth and nail. Issues of farmer welfare were closest to his heart. Be it as MLA, MP, Minister or CM, he ensured many farmer friendly measures were passed, said the prime minister.

Image credit: India TV

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