Veteran Congress leader and Gandhian Manubhai Patel breathed his last at the GMERS General Hospital in Vadodara on Friday night. Patel, who is survived by a son and three daughters, was 94. He was suffering from kidney ailment for which he was undergoing treatment.
A freedom fighter, Patel served in various capacities as the MLA from Savli assembly constituency and MP Vadodara, as well as Rajya Sabha member at different points of his long political career. He played an important role in strengthening Congress party, party leaders stated in condolence messages. Congress president Sonia Gandhi acknowledged his role as “a guiding force behind the party who devoted his entire life for the country and in strengthening Congress,” in a condolence message sent soon after his death.
Condolence messages poured in from senior Congress leaders such as Ahmed Patel, Gurudas Kamat, Madhusudan Mistry, and Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Bharatbhai Solanki, former GPCC president Arjunbhai Modhwadia, and city Congress president Narendra Ravat.
Having jumped into freedom struggle at a young age of 20, Patel was jailed twice, first at Sabarmati jail in Ahmedabad where he served three months, followed by a 13-month incarceration at Vadodara jail. In 1944, he founded Gujarat Students Congress.
He also worked towards organising the party during Maha Gujarat movement. In 1962, he was elected as an MLA from Savli constituency and served as deputy minister of education, social welfare, prohibition, rehabilitation and transport. In 1967, he won the Lok Sabha election from Vadodara constituency and between 1970-77, served as the president of All India Congress Committee. In 1978, he was made Rajya Sabha MP.
Patel’s cremation will be held on Sunday in accordance with his last wish. He has stated that his body should be wrapped in khadi cloth and no flowers be offered on it.
He had also stated that he be cremated in electric or gas crematorium so as not to waste wood. He also wanted the ashes to be offered to a tree and not sprayed in a river so as not to pollute it.