Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister and Lok Jan Shakti Party patriarch Ram Vilas Paswan passed away at a private hospital in New Delhi on Thursday. He was 74 and had recently undergone a heart surgery. His son and Lok Sabha MP Chirag Paswan broke the news on Twitter.
"Dad, you are no longer on this earth. But wherever you are, I know will always be with me. Miss you papa," he tweeted in Hindi.
On 11 September, the late Union minister had revealed that he had been hospitalised with an illness for some time. He added that his son Chirag had taken complete charge of the party and any decision on the alliance in Bihar he would take will be final.
Paswan in a series of tweets had said that his health started to deteriorate during the coronavirus crisis, but he did not go to a hospital because he had to fulfil his responsibilities as the food minister. “There was no laxity in the work. I continuously served the country as food minister and made every effort to ensure food reaches on time everywhere,” he wrote.
He had been in active politics for more than five decades and was one of the country's most noted Dalit leaders. Starting out as a member of the Legislative Assembly in Bihar, he first entered the Lok Sabha in 1977. He remained the member of the lower house until 2019, when he chose to move to the Rajya Sabha. He however lost the 1984 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections unexpectedly, entering the Rajya Sabha after losing the second time.
Known as "mausam vaigyanik (weather forecaster)" for his shrewd political alliances across the political spectrum, Paswan served as a Union Minister under six different prime ministers -- an Indian record.