Former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Agitok Sangma, who was elected to the Parliament’s lower house nine times and was once a presidential candidate, died of a heart attack in the Capital on Friday. He was 68.
Sangma is survived by wife Sorodini, sons Conrad— a former finance minister in Meghalaya— and James who’s a sitting MLA, and daughter Agatha, who was the youngest minister in the Manmohan Singh government. He will be most remembered as an animated, polyglot Lok Sabha speaker (1996-98) who revolted — along with Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar — against Congress president Sonia Gandhi over her foreign origin.
The trio formed the NCP after the Congress expelled them in 1999.
That was the beginning of the slide in Sangma’s political career during which he was the Meghalaya CM and a minister in the PV Narasimha Rao government. He split the NCP in 2004, merged his faction with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and returned to the NCP to be re-elected as MP in 2006. He quit the party again in June 2012 to unsuccessfully challenge Pranab Mukherjee for the President’s post.
In 2013, Sangma became the head of the regional National People’s Party, which he represented from the Tura seat in the state assembly until his death. He often said he did not live up to his name. Purno means “total” or “fulfilled”.
The nation has lost an eminent public figure and multi-faceted personality, President Pranab Mukherjee said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Sangma as a self-made leader whose contribution to the development of the Northeast was “monumental”.
“The nation has lost a tall leader and the Northeast has lost an important voice,” said Sonia Gandhi. Union ministers Sarbananda Sonowal, Jitendra Singh and Kiren Rijiju will pay their last respects to Sangma in Tura on Saturday. The funeral is expected on Sunday.