Purno Agitok Sangma, who was the Lok Sabha Speaker from 1996 to 1998 and one of the co-founders of Nationalist Congress Party passed away today following a heart attack. He was 68.
He stood as a candidate against Pranab Mukherjee in the last presidential election.
One of the greatest leaders from Northeast in national politics, he has been elected to the Lok Sabha nine times since 1977. Sangma also served as the Chief Minister of Meghalaya from 1988 to 1990.
Sangma, Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar were expelled from congress in 1999 for revolting against Sonia Gandhi. This led the trio to form the Nationalist Congress Party. However, Sangma was expelled from it in 2012 when he refused to accept his party's decision to quit the race for India's President.
He founded the National People's Party (NPP) in 2013 with book as its symbol. He played a key role in ensuring that NPP came to power in the recent Garo Hills Autonomous District Council election.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan announced the news of his death in the House, which has been adjourned till March 8th as mark of respect to the former speaker.
"A man of masses, Sangma strove relentlessly for the amelioration of the marginalised sections," the Speaker said.
Condoling the death of Sangma, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was "a self-made leader whose contribution towards the development of the North East is monumental. Saddened by his demise."
Born on September 1, 1947 in village Chapahati in the picturesque West Garo Hills District of Meghalaya, Sangma grew up in the small tribal village and struggled hard to rise in life.
After completing his graduation from St Anthony's College, he went to Dibrugarh University in Assam for his Masters degree in International Relations. Subsequently, he also obtained a degree in Law.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)