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 on Thursday evening, 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 on Thursday evening at around 8.20 p.m. at the Fortis Hospital here where he was admitted for several days following heart ailments.
Union Ministers Dr Harsh Vardhan, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ramdas Athawale reached the hospital as soon as they learned of the news.
On Saturday, Chirag Paswan had announced that due to sudden conditions, his father has to undergo surgery on Friday evening. "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 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 Centre.
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 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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