New Delhi, (UNI) Union Cabinet Minister and one of the prominent face among Dalit spectrum of Indian politics -- Ram Vilas Paswan -- passed away here in a hospital on Thursday after prolonged illness. He was 74.
Paswan's demise was informed by his son, Chirag Paswan, who in twitter post, said, "Papa is no more in this world, but I know wherever you are, you are always with me. Miss you Papa."
The Lok Janshakti Party founder, Paswan, had been unwell for a few weeks. He had been suffering from a heart condition for a long time and was admitted to Escort Hospital here where he undergo a heart surgery and was likely to undergo another one in few weeks.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah had called up Chirag Paswan to enquire about his father's health.
Considered to be India's prominent Dalit leaders, the 74-year-old Paswan has had an active political career spanning five decades.
Considered among the great survivors in Indian politics, Ram Vilas Paswan has been a minister in almost all Central governments formed since 1989 and served six Prime ministers, starting with the cabinet of VP Singh.
After being a Minister in the Atal Bihar Vajpayee government from 1999, he broke ties with the party earlier citing the 2002 Gujarat riots.
In 2004, he became a UPA ally in the Congress led government at the Centre from 2004 till 2014. In 2014, he was back with the BJP.
When PM Modi, was looking for new allies, Mr Paswan quit alliance with Rashtriya Janata Dal to form an alliance with the BJP.
Paswan was among the young leaders -- along with Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar -- who were inspired and nurtured by the JP movement in the '70s.
He was jailed during the 1975 Emergency and made his way into record books for the 1977 parliamentary elections, when he won from the Hajipur Lok Sabha seat in Bihar with the highest-ever margin. He has been a part of the previous UPA government as well as the present NDA government at the Centre, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He has been part of the Narendra Modi government since 2014 and has held several portfolios. He was currently holding the portfolio of Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice president M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leaders of several political parties expressed condolence on his death.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda called LJP chief Chirag Paswan and paid their condolences.
In a condolence message, the President said, '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.'
Condoling Paswan's death, the Vice president said, 'Deeply anguished by the demise of Union Minister, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan Ji. He was an exemplary leader who served the people and nation till his last breath. He was a distinguished parliamentarian and always strove for the empowerment of the marginalised.'
In a condolence message, the PM said 'Mr 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.
I am saddened beyond words. There is a void in our nation that will perhaps never be filled. Mr 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.'
Condoling the death of Mr Paswan, Home Minister Amit Shah said, 'am extremely saddened to learn about the demise of political stalwart Shri Ram Vilas Paswan ji. His contribution towards the upliftment of the downtrodden will always be remembered. May his soul find eternal peace. My condolences to his family and followers. Om Shanti.'
'Country lost one of its tallest leaders who always advocated for downtrodden, poor, SCs-STs. Whether he was in govt or in Oppn, he always represented poorest of poor. I pray to God to give peace to his soul & strength to his family,'Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said.
Expressing his condolence, Nitin Gadkari said, 'Deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing away of Ram Vilas Paswan Ji. He was a veteran politician, leader and a long-time Parliamentarian. My condolences to his family, colleagues and his many admirers.'
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury, express his condolences, said, 'Deepest condolences on the passing of my friend Ram Vilas Paswan. We had been associated for many decades, in times when he stood with India’s secular and democratic order. My solidarity with the family and Chirag Paswan in their moment of grief.'
Congress leader and former Union Minister Kapil Sibal said, 'Sorry to learn of the passing away of a valued colleague and friend Ram Vilas Paswan . My heartfelt condolences to @iChiragPaswan and the family . May his soul rest in peace .'
Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun kharge said, 'deeply saddened on the demise of Union Minister #RamvilasPaswan ji. An extremely popular leader & a voice of the oppressed class, he will be missed. My thoughts & prayers are with the bereaved family and friends. May his soul rest in peace.'
In his condolences message, Sachin Pilot said, 'am extremely saddened to learn about the demise of political stalwart Shri Ram Vilas Paswan ji. His contribution towards the upliftment of the downtrodden will always be remembered. May his soul find eternal peace. My condolences to his family and followers. Om Shanti.'
Dalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi said India lost a great leader with Paswan's death and he lost a big brother. "This tragedy is unbearable for me. His absence will always trouble me," Manjhi added.