HMP Foundation-run hospital at Piraman, the native village of Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, has been in operation for last five years and a Vocational Training Institute at nearby Kharod village operated by the same trust is working for the last one year and a batch of 60 students also passed out in 2013.
But both the institutions set up through funds donated by the local industries including Reliance and Lasen & Toubro under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) were showcased by Ahmed Patel’s son, Faisal Patel, on Saturday in presence of industrialists including Sudhir Mehta, chairman of the Torrent Group, Kuldip Goel of the Larsen & Toubro and former Congress MP Sachin Pilot who was chief guest on the occasion. Ahmed Patel was also present, apart from party leaders from Ahmedabad and other places.
If the local party leaders are to be believed, it appeared to be an occasion chosen for political launch of Harvard-educated son of Ahmed Patel, considered to be one of the most powerful Congress leaders nationally owing to his proximity to Sonia Gandhi.
Local leaders said that the event was organised to introduce 33-year-old Faisal, married to a Kashmiri girl (the couple is having a two-year-old daughter), to the party workers at the grassroots level in Bharuch Lok Sabha constituency to enable the “young Patel” to strike his political roots. Piraman village falls in Bharuch Lok Sabha constituency.
Though Ahmed Patel himself got elected thrice to Lok Sabha from this seat owing to his political influence, local leaders said that senior Patel wanted his son to establish himself politically in the area by doing social and public welfare work for the villagers and urban poor of the area.
According to local leaders, these activities would help Faisal to make claim for the Lok Sabha ticket in 2019 general elections.
Ahmed Patel, when questioned, denied the event was intended for political launch. But in his brief speech, he said, “The politics is a continuous process and let’s focus less on politics now. What is needed is the work at the grassroots level to benefit the needy and poor people.” Faisal also denied harbouring any political ambition at present.
But sources close to Ahmed Patel said that it was all a preparation to project his son for 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
During an hour-long slide-show presentation on his social activities, Faisal specially focused on the issues pertaining to health, education and unemployment facing Bharuch district and nearby areas forming part of this South Gujarat Lok Sabha seat, thus spelling his political priorities.
He said that despite $ 9 billion investment made in Bharuch district so far, 20 per cent of its population were malnourished and 39 per cent of people were still unemployed thus blasting the development claims of the state BJP government.
Faisal said that his HMP-run hospital had treated 1.17 lakh patients or what he called eight per cent of Bharuch district’s population, provided free medicines worth Rs 5 crore and its mobile clinics travelled 4.5 lakh kilometres in the last fives to provide health services to the people of the area.
Stating that over 60,000 skilled workers would be required in the next five years in industries in Bharuch district, Faisal said that it was with this view that he set up Vocational Training Institute to train local youths in skills required by the local industries. HMP Foundation also runs the Kharod Public School which, according to Faisal, provides quality education to financially poor students at a very low cost.
HMP Foundation has also set up a 100-bedded cardiac and kidney care hospital at a cost of Rs. 40 crore much of it funded by the Oil and Natural Gas Commission(ONGC). Expected to start functioning after Diwali this year, It will be the only hospital with facilities for treatment of heart and kidney diseases in a radius of 200 kms between Vadodara and Surat.
Sachin Pilot and Kuldip Goel of L&T praised Faisal Patel for his work. Kuldip goel said his company was ready to offer whatever help was required for the purpose.