Lalu Prasad Yadav, Sharad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan
Lalu Prasad Yadav, Sharad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan

It is the 74th birthday of Cabinet Minister and president of the Lok Janshakti Party -Ram Vilas Paswan.

Paswan who is the face of Dalit politics in Bihar is known for his ability to read the political wind.

His history of changing sides and grabbing a portfolio in several alliances at the centre made Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav tag him as the greatest Mausam Vaigyanik (weather vane).

During the 2014 general election campaign rallies, Lalu Prasad Yadav would joke about Ram Vilas Paswan. He would say, “Woh sabse bade mausam vaigyanik hain. PUSA wala nahi, ISRO wala (He is the biggest weather vane. Not from PUSA but ISRO).

Paswan is currently handling the portfolio of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in Modi government.

What is remarkable is Paswan has managed to be part of the Centre several times.

In 1969, Paswan was first time elected to the Bihar state legislative assembly from a reserved constituency.

He entered the Lok Sabha in 1977, as a Janata Party member from Hajipur constituency, and continued to win from the seat in 1980, 1989, 1996 and 1998, 1999, 2004, and 2014.

In 1989, he made his debut as a cabinet minister in the VP Singh government.

However, he returned as a minister after a long time in 1996 and since then there is no looking back for Paswan.

Thereafter, he became the Union Communication Minister in 1999 and he was later shifted to the Coal Ministry and continued there till April 2002.

Sensing the downfall of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), he quit NDA citing the Gujarat Riots in 2002. This move enabled him to join the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in 2004 and again got the portfolio of Chemicals and Fertilisers.

The general elections of 2009, were however tough for Paswan as he sided with RJD's Lalu Prasad Yadav and even he himself lost the election from his bastion Hajipur.

Ahead of a general election in 2014, sensing the political air he joined hands with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and again came back in cabinet as Minister with a portfolio of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

His tactics of shifting sides enabled him to work under six prime ministers till now including Vishwanath Pratap Singh, H.D. Devegowda and I.K. Gujral, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi.

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