Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan was given a state funeral and cremated at Patna’s Janardhan Ghat on Saturday. His son and Lok Janshakti Party chief Chirag Paswan performed the last rites. Paswan died on Thursday night at the age of 74 in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences where he had been admitted for several days. Paswan had undergone heart surgery last weekend. Earlier on Friday morning, national flags at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and Parliament were flown at half-mast to condole the death of the minister.
A massive crowd had gathered at the cremation site on Saturday for paying tributes to the veteran political figure. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi were among those present. Describing Paswan as the voice of the neglected, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said he was not just a leader from Bihar but a national leader. He came from an ordinary family and became a Lok Sabha MP nine times and Rajya Sabha MP twice, said, adding he and the party was extremely pained by the death of Paswan.
Paying tribute to his father, Chirag Paswan shared a throwback photograph on twitter, in which Paswan as a young boy is in his father’s arms.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress MP Rahul Gandhi were among the many that paid rich tributes to Paswan. PM Modi said in his tweet that Ram Vilas Paswan’s demise was a personal loss. He said he had lost a friend, a valued colleague and someone who was extremely passionate to ensure every poor person leads a life of dignity. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also praised Paswan as a strong voice for the poor and downtrodden.
Ram Vilas Paswan was among those leaders who were inspired and nurtured by the JP movement in the 1970s. Now powerful leaders Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar were also part of the JP movement. Paswan was a minister in almost every Central government formed since 1989 and served six Prime Ministers, starting with VP Singh. He was in charge of the Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution portfolios in PM Modi’s cabinet.