New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal has been given additional charge of consumer affairs, food and public distribution following the demise of LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan. Besides Railways, Piyush Goyal is also the minister of commerce and industry. Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) founder was 74-year-old and had recently undergone heart surgery.

He had recently handed over reins of his party to his son Chirag Paswan and gave him free hand to take a decision on alliance with the JD-U in Bihar ahead of the Assembly elections.

Several leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Piyush Goyal, paid tributes to Paswan at his residence in Delhi. The last rites of the LJP leader will be held in Patna on Saturday.

"I have lost a friend, valued colleague and someone who was extremely passionate to ensure every poor person leads a life of dignity," PM Modi said.

Paswan was one of the tallest Dalit leaders of the country who served in both Congress and BJP-led governments. Paswan served six prime ministers from both the BJP as well as Congress. In fact, he was part of almost every government at the Centre since 1989 when VP Singh was the PM.

His death has come just ahead of the Assembly elections in Bihar where his son Chirag has decided to go solo. Chirag refused to ally with the NDA and fielded candidates against Nitish Kumar-led JD-U. He, however, didn't field any candidate against the BJP. Several experts believe Paswan's death may have bearing on the outcome of Bihar polls.

Posted By: Shashikant Sharma