Lok Janshakti Party leader from Bihar and union minister Ram Vilas Paswan has had eight stints in Parliament. As minister of Food and Public Distribution in the two-month-old BJP-led government, he faces a public that is increasingly aware of its entitlements. For the first time, Paswan finds himself sharing the same roof with another Member of Parliament—his son and first-time MP Chirag Paswan. In a free-wheeling interview, he speaks about an election in which voters seemed to surpass their caste identity, delivering food to the hungry and the future of caste-based parties.
How do you explain your party’s success in 2014 when all other so-called caste-based parties like the BSP and RJD lost?
My party has six Lok Sabha winners in this Parliament. This includes a Bhumihar, an upper caste, a Rajput, also upper caste we have Muslims…So we have Dalits, Muslims, other castes in the party. So how can we be a caste-based party?
Is caste-based politics over or is it the caste-based parties that are no longer...