Ram Vilas Paswan passes away; Prime Minister hails Union Minister's fight against Emergency

    09-Oct-2020   
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New Delhi: Union Food Minister and socialist veteran Ram Vilas Paswan, founder president of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), expired on Thursday, Oct 8, evening.
 
"Papa....ab aap is duniya mein nahi haen (Papa, you are no longer in this world)," his son and lawmaker Chirag Paswan tweeted.
 
He further wrote in Hindi, "....But I know, you will be always there with me. Miss you Papa...".
 
"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," Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote in a Twitter missive.
 
Late Paswan underwent heart surgery recently. He was 74 and is known as a formidable Dalit face in Indian politics.
 
He had shot into fame for reasons more than one - achieving record historic win from Hajipur and as Union Labour Minister under VP Singh government, he was one of chief pro-Mandal faces in the union cabinet.
 
Paswan was arrested during Emergency. On being released in 1977, he became a member of the Janata Party and won election to Parliament for the first time. He held the world record for winning the election by highest margin. Paswan was re-elected to the 7th Lok Sabha in 1980 and also a number of times from Hajipur constituency in Bihar.
 
Generally hailed as a pragmatic politician and whose ability to read political pulse was near perfect, since 1996, senior Paswan has served under all Prime Ministers as Union Minister. He was in the cabinet of H D Deve Gowda, I K Gujral, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Dr Manmohan Singh and also under Narendra Modi since 2014.
 
In 2016, he told this writer that to serve as Food Minister of India it is a 'thankless job' and hastened to add, "when you provide rice at Rs 2 per kg to poor people, you feel satisfied".
 
"Nowhere in the planet can you imagine the quantum of government intervention to ensure PDS (public distribution system) supply for the poor and the needy. Rice at Rs 2 per kg is unimaginable elsewhere," Paswan has said.
 
"If the price of rice is Rs 30 per kg, then the Centre under Prime Minister Modi is giving a subsidy of Rs 28 and the consumers pay just Rs 2," the former minister had stressed.
 
Prime Minister Modi and several other politicians have condoled the demise of the Union Minister.
 
"Working together, shoulder to shoulder with Paswan Ji has been an incredible experience. His interventions during Cabinet Meetings were insightful. From political wisdom, statesmanship to governance issues, he was brilliant. Condolences to his family and supporters. Om Shanti," Shri Narendra Modi tweeted.
 
The Prime Minister recalled Late Paswan's firm conviction in democratic values and his stiff opposition to Emergency in 1970s.
 
In his 2016 interaction, Late Paswan, a great proponent of reservation politics, also had said “The Prime Minister (Modi) has been doing enough to reach out to these (Dalit and other backward) communities. I find glimpses of (the late Prime Minister) V.P. Singh’s commitments in Modi. V.P. Singh was a raja and (belonged to) an upper-caste but he stood by the backward classes and so Mandal Commission (on reservations). Today Prime Minister Modi goes abroad and names B. R. Ambedkar among the great individuals of India. It only shows his commitment".