New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi today remembered former Union minister E Ahamed as a “defender of people” who was more an institution than a politician and a guiding light to him and others.
Paying rich tributes to Ahamed at a function at the Constitution Club here, Gandhi recalled how hurt he felt at the way the IUML leader’s family was treated at a government- run hospital before he breathed his last after suffering a cardiac arrest last year.
“I remember when I went to the hospital and I was with the family. The treatment that the family got, what they were made to feel … I really felt quite hurt about it. I felt that it was very unfair, what was being done,” he said.
The condolence meeting was organised by Ahamed’s party, the Indian Union Muslim League, in the form a seminar, “Defending Democracy – Remembering E Ahamed”.
Among others who attended the meeting were Congress leaders A K Antony and Shashi Tharoor and leaders of various parties including D Raja of the CPI and Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference.
Gandhi recalled how he developed a friendship with Ahamed, who used to sit behind him in the Lok Sabha and would tap him on the back to give him his views on important issues when raised.
“In politics, you meet generally two types of people.
There are those for whom politics is all about themselves, about improving their image, the perception about them, everything is centred around them. And then there are those for whom everything is about other people. I think, E Ahamed ji was one of those people (in the latter group),” he said.
Gandhi said whenever he spoke to him, the feeling he got was that Ahamed was a defender of the people of Kerala and a defender of the people of India.
“In a sense, there are a few people in politics who are institutions, who go further than being just politicians. They occupy a bigger space, institutional space in the mind and I think E Ahamed ji was one of those people who transcended the word politician,” Gandhi said, adding that he had become a guide for younger politicians like him.
“That is how I view E Ahamed ji — as a guiding light, as somebody who we can look towards for inspiration,” he said.
“My main memory about Ahamed ji was about a person who listened, of a person who transcended as a personality and became an institution. That is how I remember him,” he said.
There was high drama at government-run RML hospital on January 31 last year when top Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi visited him in the hospital, alleging that his family was not being allowed to meet him because of the government’s “high-handedness”.
Ahamed collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest during the President’s address at the joint sitting of Parliament and was rushed to RML hospital. The budget was to be presented on February 1.