The death of Union Minister and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) founder Ram Vilas Paswan — one of the tallest political leaders to emerge from Bihar, has cast gloom in his native state. The LJP leader, 74, died at a Delhi hospital on Thursday.
Paswan’s demise — exactly 20 days before Bihar goes to polls, is also expected to impact the election prospects of the LJP, and the overall dynamics as well as outcome of the three-phased polls in the eastern state that kicks off on October 28.
Popular as one of the most prominent Dalit leaders of Bihar, the Union Food and Civil Supplies Minister in the Narendra Modi-led government was widely known for socialist ways.
He rose to prominence during the ‘JP Movement’ — Jaya Prakash Nayaran’s Sampoorna Kranti Movement in 1974, and was jailed when the Emergency was imposed. In 1977, he was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time on a Janata Party ticket from the Hajipur constituency and created a record by winning by over 4 lakh votes. Twelve years later, in 1989, he bettered his own record by winning from the same parliamentary seat by over 5 lakh votes.
“Ram Vilas Paswan was one of the most prominent champions of social justice along with Lalu Prasad. However, his ideology was slightly different from the RJD leader… still, he was quite popular among the people of backward classes,” political observer Saroj Yadav told IANS.
“I believe his demise could give some scope to the LJP in the upcoming Assembly elections in Bihar. Especially, Chirag Paswan could get votes due to sympathy,” he said
“The voters of Bihar also count Chirag’s dedication toward his father till last moment of his life. Paswan was admitted in hospital for the last 74 days and despite assembly election in Bihar around the corner, he stayed there,” Yadav added.
Sending condolences to Paswan’s family, Bihar Minister Ashok Chaudhary described him as “great samajwadi (socialist) leader and voice of the backward class”.
“It is a great loss for Bihar and the country,” he said.
Sanjay Jaiswal, President of the BJP’s Bihar unit, said: “He was a great humanitarian leader of the country and institution on ‘how to protect our own people’. I know him for last 30 years. He was like my elder brother.”
BJP’s Bihar in-charge and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expressing condolence over Paswan’s demise said: “He was the most positive-minded leader of the country always looking to work for the poor people. We have met several times when he was a Union Minister and I was the CM of Maharashtra. It is a great loss for political circle of the country as well as humanity.”
RJD state President Jagdanand Singh said: “He was symbol of development of Bihar. He always advocated social justice for the people of the backward class. People will not forget his role in development of Bihar.”
The election would be held in Bihar in three phases for a total of 243 seats. In the first phase, polling would be held for 71 seats.
In the second phase, election would be held for 94 seats on 3 November 3, and the third and final phase on November 7 would witness voting for 78 seats.
The results would be announced on November 10.