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Home / News / India /  End of an era in Bihar politics as Ram Vilas Paswan passes away

NEW DELHI : Veteran socialist leader from Bihar and founder of Lok Jansakti Party (LJP), Ram Vilas Paswan, died on Thursday in Delhi due to prolonged illness. The 73-year-old leader was among the senior most politicians from Bihar which is scheduled to witness assembly elections later this month.

Paswan was a member of the council of ministers in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and was the cabinet minister of consumer affairs, food and public distribution. The veteran politician from the scheduled caste (SC) community from Hajipur in Bihar was legislator for more than 5 decades when he first became a member of legislative assembly Bihar in 1969.

“Papa...now you are no longer in this world but I know wherever you are, you will always be with me. Miss you papa," tweeted Chirag Paswan, son of Ram Vilas Paswan and chief of LJP on late Thursday evening.

After being a legislator in assembly for nearly 8 years and protesting against the imposition of emergency in 1975, Paswan entered Parliament for the first time in 1977 and continued to be a Member of Parliament (MP) in Lok Sabha for at least 8 terms.

The rise of Paswan was meteoric both in Bihar politics and also at the national level and with a decade of becoming a parliamentarian for the first time, Paswan became union minister for the first time in 1989 when he was a MP for the fourth consecutive term.

“I am saddened beyond words. There is a void in our nation that will perhaps never be filled. Shri 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," tweeted PM Modi.

“Shri Ram Vilas Paswan Ji rose in politics through hardwork and determination. As a young leader, he resisted tyranny and the assault on our democracy during the Emergency. He was an outstanding Parliamentarian and Minister, making lasting contributions in several policy areas," Modi tweeted.

Paswan formed LJP in 2000 and within one year for the formation of his party, he became a minister in the first National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government under former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. After NDA lost power in 2004, Paswan joined Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in 2004 and again became a union minister till 2014.

Although Paswan remained a socialist leader but he had ties with political leaders across the spectrum. He was part of both Congress led UPA and also became a minister in the NDA government when Prime Minister Narendra Modi rose to power in 2014 general elections.

“I am extremely sorry to hear the sad news of untimely demise of Ramvilas Bhai. The indestructible relationship of the last 45 years and all the social, political battles fought with them is floating in the eyes. Ramvilas brother, you left early. I am not in a position to say anything more than this," RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav tweeted on Thursday.

In 1977, 31 year old Paswan won his debut Lok Sabha election from the Hajipur constituency in Bihar with a record margin of over 4.2 lakh votes. He broke his own record in 1989 from the same seat, winning by over 5 lakh votes. In a record of sorts, He represented the constituency ten times in the Lok Sabha before heading to Rajya Sabha last year.

A strong socialist leader of his times, Paswan’s early political career was influenced, like many of his contemporaries in Bihar politics, by the two iconic figures – Jay Prakash Narain and Karpuri Thakur. A prominent Dalit leader, Paswan’s party has in the past aligned with all the major political players at different times including former chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav led Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress party and more recently within the fold of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

In an interview with Mint ahead of the previous assembly elections in Bihar 2015, he described himself as “The leader of Dalits and Mahadalits (in Bihar) is Ram Vilas Paswan", a strong reiteration of what he felt were his political priorities in the state.

“In the demise of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, the nation has lost a visionary leader. He was among the most active and longest-serving members of parliament. He was the voice of the oppressed and championed the cause of the marginalized," President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted on Thursday evening.

“With extreme sorrow, we would like to inform that honorable minister Shri Ram Vilas Paswan passed away at 6:05pm today, 8th October 2020 at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Okhla, New Delhi,"said Dr Ashok Seth, Chairman, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute in an official statement.

The statement further said that Ram Vilas Paswan was admitted to Fortis Escorts Heart Institute (FEHI) with heart failure and kidney shutdown. He was managed on medication and subsequently by dialysis. For progressive worsening of heart failure, he was put on ventilator and ECMO support for failing heart and lungs. He subsequently underwent heart surgery and implantation of right and left ventricular assist device to support heart function and recovery of vital organs. "His medical condition deteriorated in the last 24 hours and despite continuous efforts, Shri Paswan passed away at 6:05 pm on 8th October 2020," said Seth.

“We convey our heartfelt condolences to his family and our prayers for his noble soul," he said.

With inputs from Neetu Chandra Sharma

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