Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister of consumer affairs, food and public distribution passed away late on Thursday. Recently he underwent heart surgery in a Delhi hospital. Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Chirag Paswan, his son informed about his father’s death. He tweeted on Thursday: “Papa …. Now you are not in this world but I know you are always with me wherever you are. Miss you Papa …” He has been hospitalised for the last few weeks. He has long suffered from a heart condition, according to reports.

Paswan has served as a Union Minister under several Prime Ministers and his party has been a part of all national coalitions. An eighth-time Member of Parliament in Lok Sabha, Paswan was one of the country’s most famous Dalit leaders.

He started his political career as a part of the Samyukta Communist Party (SSP). Paswan got to be a part of the Bihar Legislative Assembly in 1969. In 1970, he was made the joint secretary of the SSP’s Bihar department. Four years later, he became the general secretary of the Bihar Department of the new Lok Dal (People’s Party) after it had been formed through the merger of the SSP and other parties.

“In the demise of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, the nation has lost a visionary leader. He was among the most active and longest-serving members of parliament. He was the voice of the oppressed and championed the cause of the marginalized,” President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted on Thursday evening.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences to the Paswan family. “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,” he wrote on Twitter.

The veteran politician formed Lok Janshakti Party in 2000. Within one year of the formation of his party, he got to become a minister in the first National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government under former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. After NDA lost control in 2004, Paswan joined Congress driven United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in 2004 and once again became the Union Minister till 2014.