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NEW DELHI: In politics people you support may forget you sometimes but if you attack a group, then they will never forget and forgive you, Ram Vilas Paswan once said in an informal get-together when someone prodded him on the secret of goodwill and warm equations he enjoyed across parties of contrasting ideological hues and communities.

This kernel of Paswan’s political philosophy very much defined the Dalit leader who might not have ever been a king but as a kingmaker outlasted many kings in his illustrious career of more than five decades.

The veteran Dalit leader died on Thursday at the age of 74 at a private hospital where he had recently undergone a heart operation.

Paswan believed in making friends and investing in relationships and took pride in describing himself as a cementing force among, at times, warring allies.

Elected for the first time as an MLA in 1969 as a member of an anti-Congress front after quitting his job as a police official, he rose through the ranks of various socialist parties, which changed forms with a periodic interval, and became a leading Dalit face.

Born in Khagaria in Bihar in 1946, Paswan was elected to Lok Sabha eight times and was currently a Rajya Sabha member.

K C Tyagi of the Janatal Dal (United), who was with Paswan in the Charan Singh-led Lok Dal for years and described him as a socialist colleague of over 45 years, said the the Lok Janshakti Party founder played a key role in consolidating Dalits in north India and remained their voice.

He was one of the key ministers in the V P Singh government, which came to power in 1989, and pushed for implementing the Mandal Commission report, which recommended reservation for other backward classes, upending the pivot of politics, especially in Hindi-speaking states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh forever.

Paswan’s simplicity and sincerity will remain exemplary, Tyagi said.

It is an ode to his politics that believed in building bridges across social or political divides that he was one of the most liked state leaders among the upper castes even as he drew his support mostly from Dalits, a group which at times shared antagonistic relations with the more prosperous communities due to a number of social and political reasons.

It is also a tribute to his worth as a politician and his warm acceptance across parties as contrasting in their ideologies as the Congress and the BJP that he was courted by arch rivals like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Sonia Gandhi and served as a valuable minister in the BJP-led NDA as well as the Congress-led UPA governments.

When he quit the Vajpayee government due to his growing differences with the saffron party, he had also attacked the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi but when he joined hands with the Modi-led BJP in 2014, he soon became a trusted colleague of the prime minister, especially on Dalit issues.

Critics at times mocked him as ‘mausam vaigyanik’ (weatherman) for his skill to navigate his ways into an alliance that would come to power after elections.

However, many believed it was an over simplification and noted that he was almost forced to quit the UPA in 2014 after Lalu Prasad’s RJD thought that the Lok Janshakti Party should not be given more than three seats in the Lok Sabha polls.

His death, however, could not have come at a worse time for his 37-year-old son Chirag Paswan, who is now heading the party his father founded in 2000.

No longer in the ruling National Democratic Alliance in Bihar, Chirag Paswan is taking on chief minister Nitish Kumar‘s JD(U) as well as the opposition alliance in the assembly polls and will miss out on his father’s experience of deftly navigating several such crises in the past.

Paswan’s death may also spark an upsurge of support for his scion among his party’s supporter and sympathisers.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

Pakistan still a haven for terror, India says on FATF decision eve

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NEW DELHI: With the ongoing plenary of terror watchdog FATF likely to decide on Friday if Pakistan should remain in its grey list, India reiterated that Islamabad continued to provide safe haven to terrorist entities and individuals.

The government also said Pakistan had not yet taken any action against several terror entities and individuals, including those proscribed by UNSC like Masood Azhar, Dawood Ibrahim and Zakir-ur-Rahman Lakhvi. All indications are that Pakistan will remain in the grey list for not fulfilling all its commitments to check terror financing and money laundering.

As the MEA said in its statement, it’s understood that Pakistan has addressed only 21 action items so far out of the 27-point FATF Action Plan.

“Six important action items are yet to be addressed,” said spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, adding it was well known that Pakistan’s a haven for terrorists. All six remaining points are said to be related to terror financing.

The issue of Pakistan’s compliance is being looked at the virtual FATF plenary meeting that will get over on October 23. As the official said, Parisbased FATF makes public announcements of its decisions according to its rules and procedures after its Plenary meeting.

“FATF has well laid out standards and procedures for putting a country in its Black List and Grey List. After a country is put on a List, an action plan is given to it and the country concerned is expected to fully complete the action plan within the stipulated time. Those found wanting in implementing their obligations are held accountable and subjected to appropriate action,” he said.

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INDIA

LAC stand-off: India rejects China’s demand, but talks on

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NEW DELHI: As India and China maintain stable but confrontational positions in eastern Ladakh, the external affairs ministry on Thursday said that “the immediate task is to ensure a comprehensive disengagement of troops in all the friction areas”.

The two sides are reportedly engaged in high-level talks to resolve the stand-off. According to sources, China has been asking for a de-escalation of armoured and artillery units before disengagement. That is unacceptable to the Indian side because China has a much easier route to re-arm its troops, unlike India.

“India and China continue to have discussions through both diplomatic and military channels to peacefully resolve the issues along the LAC in India-China border areas. This is in keeping with the agreement reached between the two foreign ministers during their meeting in Moscow on September 10,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a media briefing.

Srivastava also referred to the last round of diplomatic parleys between India and China on September 30 and the seventh round of military talks on October 12.

“The two sides have reiterated their desire to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement as early as possible,” he added.

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INDIA

Covid: Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka too say they’ll give free vaccine doses

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NEW DELHI: A Covid vaccine might still be some time away, but it’s already raining promises of free vaccination across states. Hours after BJP’s election manifesto for Bihar offered free coronavirus vaccination to all if the NDA retained office, at least two states — Tamil Nadu and Karnataka — vowed to vaccinate every citizen for free while a third — Madhya Pradesh — reserved its commitment for the poor.

Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K Palaniswami was first off the blocks, promising free vaccination for all as and when a mass-produced vaccine was made available.

DMK president M K Stalin promptly accused the CM of “trying to show off”, saying it was the responsibility of any government to safeguard people during a pandemic by making available critical vaccines free of cost.

“EPS did not have the heart to offer a dole of Rs 5,000 to the common people who lost their livelihood (during the lockdown)” he said. With bypolls to 28 MP seats just 11 days away, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan jumped onto the bandwagon late on Thursday and announced it would be free for the poor.

“BJP has said a very good thing in Bihar. And I am saying the same thing here. Let the corona vaccine come, every poor person in MP will be administered the vaccine for free,” he said at a poll rally in Gwalior. Around 9.30pm, he took to Twitter to reiterate the promise, inviting criticism from Congress.

In Karnataka, the vaccine would be free for everyone if and when commercially available, health commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey said. State health and family welfare minister K Sudhakar said the state was working with experts on a plan of action for distribution of the vaccine, including determining which vulnerable groups must be covered first.

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