Ram Vilas Paswan
Ram Vilas PaswanFile photo

Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan passes away, days after heart surgery

New Delhi, October 8, 2020

Union Minister and Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan, who had been ailing for some time, passed away here today.

He was 74.

The news of his passing away was announced on micro-blogging site Twitter by his son and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) National President Chirag Paswan this evening.

"Papa, you are no longer in this world but I know that, wherever you are, you are always with me. Miss you, Papa," he said. He also posted an old photograph of himself with his father.

Paswan, who was Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in the Narendra Modi Government, had been ailing for some time and had been hospitalised in Delhi for about a month.

His death, at around 8.20 pm today, has come five days after he underwent a heart surgery at the Fortis Hospital last Saturday. He had in the past undergone a bypass surgery.

Paswan is survived by his wife, Reena Paswan, a son, Chirag, an actor-turned-politician, and three daughters.

Born on July 5, 1946, Paswan, who had a Master's degree in Arts from Patna University and a degree in Law from Kosi College, Khagaria. He had been selected as an officer in Bihar police in 1969 but opted for a career in politics.

One of the leading Dalit leaders in the country, Paswan was elected to the Bihar Legislative Assembly as a candidate of the Samyukta Socialist Party from a reserved constituency. He later became the general secretary of the Lok Dal before joining the Janata Party-S led by Raj Narain.

He was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1977 from Hajipur in Bihar as a member of the Janata Party, after being jailed during the Emergency, setting a world record for winning an election with the highest margin.

He went on to serve seven more terms in the Lok Sabha from Hajipur and was serving his second term as a member of the Rajya Sabha.

He served as Union Minister for Labour and Welfare in the V P Singh government in 1989-90 and held various portfolios such as Railways, Parliamentary Affairs, Communications, Chemicals and Fertilizers and Coal and Mines and Steel in the Deve Gowda, Inder Kumar Gujral, Atal Bihari Vajpayee governments and later the UPA government led by Manmohan Singh.

In May 2014, he became the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in the Modi government's first term and was given the same responsibility in the Modi government's second term which began in May last year.

IANS adds:

His death came just days after Chirag Paswan decided to leave the NDA in Bihar and fight the Assembly polls on their own.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP President J.P. Nadda and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis spoke to Chirag Paswan over phone to extend their condolences.

Condolence message started pouring in from across the political spectrum.

Modi tweeted: "I am saddened beyond words. There is a void in our nation that will perhaps never be filled. Ram Vilas Paswan Ji's demise is a personal loss. I have lost a friend, valued colleague and someone who was extremely passionate to ensure every poor person leads a life of dignity."

Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted: "The untimely demise of Ram Vilas Paswan Paswan is saddening. The poor downtrodden and Dalit lost a strong voice today. My condolences to his family members."

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also took to Twitter, writing: "Death of Ram Vilas Paswanji is very painful to me. In his long political career he always worked for the upliftment of poor, downtrodden and dalits. He was considered among one of the tallest leaders associated with soil of Bihar and he has good relations across the political lines."

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari tweeted: "I am shocked either the news of Ram Vilas Paswanji. My heartfelt condolences to him. Paswanji has played an important role in uplifting poor, marginalized Dalit and downtrodden. May god give peace to the departed soul. Om Shanti."

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also condoled the death of Paswan.

In a tweet, she said: "Ram Vilas ji was the neighbour of my mother for years and our family shared a personal relation with him. The news of his death is saddening. My condolences are with Chiragji and the entire family. We are standing with the family in this sad hour."


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