New Delhi: Former Lok Sabha speaker Purno Agitok Sangma died of a heart attack here on Friday at the age of 68.
In a career spanning over 45 years, Sangma had held positions that made him among the most decorated political leaders of India.
Sangma was always considered a loyalist of Nehru-Gandhi family. His departure from Congress is still mystifying for party members as Sonia Gandhi shared a warm relation with Sangma. Gandhi gave her key organisational assignments, brought him to Congress Working Committee, and made him chairman of an AICC task committee to suggest revival measures for Congress.
But what is considered to be his most baffling yet daring act of his career was to leave Congress, a decision that severely affected his consistent political graph.
Raising the banner of revolt against Sonia Gandhi's ‘foreign origin', Sangma along with Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar broke away from Congress and formed Nationalist Congress Party.
Sangma was a nine-time member of Lok Sabha , the Speaker in the 11th Lok Sabha., a highly-rated union minister, chief minister and leader of Opposition in his home state.
Considered by many as the tallest north-eastern leader, Mr. Sangma was a delightful conversationalist who could be remarkably candid and unpretentious, engaging his listeners with insightful anecdotes and sizzling jokes
His journey from far off Meghalya to the power echelons of Delhi is in itself a testimony to his political will and acumen.
Sangma got his first political break in 1975 when he was appointed as general secretary of the Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee. Then there was no looking back.
He became Minister of State for Commerce and Civil Supplies in the Rajiv Gandhi government in the 1980s. He also remained the chief minister of Meghalaya from 1988 to 1990.
He served as a Minister of State for Coal (independent charge) in the Narasimha Rao government in the 1990s. Sangma served the Lok Sabha as its speaker from 1996 to 1998.
Sangma last famous act was to unsuccessfully contest the 2012 Presidential contest as BJP-backed candidate against Pranab Mukherjee.
He was expelled from the NCP in 2012 when he refused to accept its decision to back out of the election for President of India. He moved to Trinamool Congress but later formed his own party. In 2013, Mr. Sangma founded the National People's Party.