NEW DELHI – Veteran leader and Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who was admitted to a private hospital here for the last several days, passed away Oct. 8, his family members said. He was 74.
The news of his demise was announced by his son and Lok Janshakti Party chief Chirag Paswan, who tweeted: "Father, now you are no more in this world but wherever you are, you will be with me. Miss you papa..."
He also shared an old photo of him and his father along with the tweet.
According to his close family members, Paswan breathed his last at the Fortis Hospital here where he was admitted for several days following heart ailments.
Union Ministers Harsh Vardhan, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ramdas Athawale reached the hospital as soon as they learned of the news.
On Oct. 4, Chirag Paswan had announced that due to sudden conditions, his father has to undergo surgery. "And if required, one more surgery can be required in the coming weeks. I thank everyone for standing with me and my family members in such testing times," he had tweeted.
His death came just days after Chirag Paswan decided to leave the NDA in Bihar and fight the Assembly polls on their own.
One of the leading Dalit leaders in the country, Paswan had been a minister in the Narendra Modi government, the Manmohan Singh-led UPA-1 government as well as the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government at the Center.
Born in Khagaria district of Bihar on July 5, 1946, he had been selected for police service but chose to join politics. First elected as an MLA in 1969, he had completed five decades in active politics in 2019. Entering Parliament for the first time in 1977 – with a record margin, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Hajipur parliamentary constituency for eight times and served as Union Minister under six prime ministers.
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 the 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 is saddening. The poor downtrodden and Dalit lost a strong voice today. My condolences to his family members."