Sangma’s Chequered Career: From Cong to NCP and BJP-Backed Candidate for Prez

New Delhi
Sangma’s Chequered Career: From Cong to NCP and BJP-Backed Candidate for Prez

P A Sangma, the first Lok Sabha Speaker from the North East, had a roller coaster ride in politics opposing Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin and later tied up with her in the UPA only to become BJP's Presidential candidate against Pranab Mukherjee.

For long a staunch Congressman, he became a minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government and later was appointed Labour Minister in the Narasimha Rao ministry.

Backed by all parties, he rose to become the Lok Sabha Speaker in 1996 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was Prime Minister in the shortlived BJP government.

A nine-time member of Lok Sabha, 68-year-old Sangma passed away in Delhi today following a heart attack.

He was expelled from the Congress on May 20, 1999 along with Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar for raising the banner of revolt against Sonia Gandhi over her foreign origin.

He went on to form the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) with Pawar and Anwar.

A multi-faceted personality, Sangma in 2004 split the NCP and merged his faction with Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, forming the Nationalist Trinamool Congress.

On June 20, 2012, Sangma resigned from the UPA constituent after Pawar opposed his Presidential candidature polls. A day later BJP declared Sangma as its official candidate for the Presidential polL which he lost to Mukherjee.

As Speaker of the 11th Lok Sabha, Sangma was known to disarm agitated members with his spontaneous wit, affable disposition and a sense of impartiality.

From a humble beginning in a small tribal village in Meghalaya, Sangma became a Lok Sabha member at the age of 30 from Tura constituency on a Congress ticket at a time when the nation was witnessing a major political unpheaval with the Congress losing power for the first time since Independence.

In less than two years, the Janata Party went out of office and the Charan Singh government lasted but a few months.

In the mid-term Lok Sabha elections in 1980, the Indira Gandhi-led Congress returned to power at the Centre and Sangma was re-elected from the same constituency.

Born on September one, 1947 in Chapahati village in the picturesque West Garo Hills district in Meghalaya, Purno Agitok Sangma, Sangma was a lecturer, a lawyer and a journalist before he joined politics as a Congress party worker.

After completing his graduation from St Anthony's College, he wnet to Dibrugarh University in Assam for his Masters degree in International Relations. Subsequently, he also obtained a degree in law.

Moving up quickly in the party stucture, Sangma got to the centre stage after being general secretary of the Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee in 1975.

He was Minister of State for Commerce and Supply in the Rajiv Gandhi government. He held the independent charge of Coal ministry under Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and in 1992, he was given additional responsibility of assisting the PM in the Labour ministry.

Executing his responsibility as Lok Sabha Speaker with flair, Sangma succeeded on most occasions in ensuring that rules were observed by the members even in the midst of stormy debates.

His concern for decorum and dignity of the House earned him laurels as an outstanding parliamentarian.

Leaders from across the political spectrum recalled that his hearty laugh, boundless enthusiasm, impeccable demeanour and earthy wisdom made it difficult for MPs to disobey him.

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