Zee Media Bureau/Ajith Vijay Kumar
New Delhi: Narendra Modi`s interview with Doordarshan has left Sonia Gandhi`s political secretary Ahmed Patel fuming with anger over his fellow Gujarati`s claim that they were `good friends` in the past.
Patel`s discomfort in being seen as having any link with Modi, even in the past, is understandable given his status as one of the closest confidants of 10 Janpath.
Narendra Modi is the `Maut Ka Saudagar`, any association with him, leave alone friendship is something which Patel would like to keep at pole length, even from his shadow.
However, Patel did agree that he had lunch with Modi once in 1980 (in the know of Rajiv Gandhi) but has not had even a cup of tea with Modi since he became chief minister in 2001.
“After he became CM then maybe we talked on the phone during festivals back then. But not after that,” he said.
"I was laughing when I heard Modi ji`s statement where he said I am his friend. Modi ji has no friends in his own party, then how can I be his friend?," he added.
Later Patel said that he will leave public life if Modi can prove that he had gone to his office or home after the latter took over as Chief Minister.
"Ahmedbhai is among the best friends I have in Congress but not now ... I had a good friendship with him and would have preferred that it had remained so ... but he now runs away from me and doesn`t take my calls," Modi had said in the interview with Doordarshan.
Modi`s comments on his relationship with Patel were edited out when the interview was telecast on Sunday, however, Modi`s office later released the unedited version of the interview, much to the discomfort of Patel.
Playing on the Advani-Modi friction to target Modi, Patel said, "If he can`t even invite Advaniji for a meal, how can he invite me?" adding, “I have never asked him for any professional or personal favour.”
However, the moot question remains: Is there a need for Patel to get jittery about his past equation with Narendra Modi.
He was “good friends” – if one were to believe Modi`s claim – almost two decades before the Gujarat pogrom. This would not in any sense make Ahmed Patel suffer the “taint” of being Modi’s buddy!
A decade is a long time life, but it seems not in politics. Modi himself has not been able to shrug of the riots taint despite getting a clean chit by the courts, the perception remains.
Modi `friend` from Bharuch knows that too.