Ram Vilas Paswan, India’s socialist icon from Bihar state, who served as a federal minister under six different prime ministers, was cremated at Patna city’s Janardan Ghat on the banks of the Ganges on Saturday with full state honours.
The last rites were performed by his son Chirag Paswan, also a politician, in the presence of legislators from India's state and central government, including State Chief Nitish Kumar, Bihar Deputy State Chief Sushil Modi, Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav, former minister Pappu Yadav, and national government ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, Giriraj Singh and Ashwani Choubey.
Paswan, who had crusaded against the government's emergency anti-coronavirus measures earlier this year, passed away late Thursday, days after undergoing heart surgery at a private Delhi hospital. His body was later taken from the official residence in Delhi to Patna for last rites.
Bihar: LJP chief Chirag Paswan performs last rites of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan in Patna. pic.twitter.com/t1IzaWPoSn— FX16 News (@fx16news) October 10, 2020
All arrangements are in place for the last rites of Ram Vilas Paswan in #Patna. Heavy crowd emerges on the banks of #Ganga to pay their last respect to the departed leader. #RamVilasPaswan #RipRamvilasPaswan #JPSetu pic.twitter.com/ag0hlspqCW— Shailesh Shrivastava (@ShriShailesh) October 10, 2020
The government declared that India’s national flag would be flown at half mast Thursday in New Delhi and the capitals of all states and Union Territories, as well as on Friday, at the place where the funeral is taking place.
The politician's last name, Paswan, is that of a scheduled caste in India, placing him among those once called "untouchables". Paswan had turned down a senior-level position in the state police to enter politics. He championed the interests of India's historically discriminated-against castes and tribes, as well as the poor.
Paswan was serving as federal minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public distribution.
One of his major announcements as a federal minister in the Narendra Modi government was the rolling out of a ‘One nation, One ration card’ plan in all states by the end of March, 2021. The scheme would enable people to take their food grain quota from any ration shop in the country.
Prime Minister Modi has described him as an “outstanding parliamentarian” who resisted “tyranny”.
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. pic.twitter.com/naqx27xBoj— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 8, 2020
I am saddened beyond words. There is a void in our nation that will perhaps never be filled. Shri 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. pic.twitter.com/2UUuPBjBrj— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 8, 2020
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Modi and the leader of India’s main opposition party Congress, Sonia Gandhi, are among politicians from across the country who have sent their condolences.
His son, Chirag Paswan, now leads his party LJP, ahead of the upcoming Bihar State Legislature Elections, which will be held from 28 October to 7 November.