A manifesto for Sangma's Presidential campaign

A. M. Jigeesh | Updated on June 15, 2012

By P.A. Sangma Harper Collins Pages: 489 Price: Rs 799

Purno Agitok Sangma says his book, ‘A Life In Politics', is a serious work that offers no sensationalism. He promises that his next book, autobiographical in nature, will have enough masala to stir some controversies among political circles.

A former Speaker of the Lok Sabha, a former Chief Minister of Meghalaya and a Member of Parliament from the North East for more than three decades, Sangma continues to be an important personality in Indian politics.

For the last three-four years, Sangma was on sabbatical from the political centre-stage. But he has swung back into action by throwing his hat into the upcoming Presidential election ring, pitching himself as a tribal and Christian representative and proving that he is not a person to be written off easily.

‘A Life in Politics' is a collection of Sangma's “serious” thoughts on politics, policies, economy and administration. However, considering the timing, the book can well be considered his manifesto for the Presidential polls.

Message for youth

Sangma lists out his achievements as a Speaker, a Minister, an MP and politician in the book, which is a collection of his select speeches and lectures delivered between 1979 and 2004.

The book, says Sangma, is written for the younger generation, particularly to young politicians, to give them an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the country's socio-economic problems, important political developments and some effective policy decisions taken in the past few decades.

Former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, in his foreword to the book, also hopes that the book will benefit the youth.

Messages from politicians of different hues add colour to the collection.

For instance, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recalls that as Speaker, Sangma discharged his duties with impartiality and earned the respect of the members of the House. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee says that though Sangma is short, he has a large personality.

Interestingly, while leaders from all streams of politics have something to say about Sangma, messages from his own party leader, the Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar as well as from Congress President Sonia Gandhi are missing.

Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and Bihar's Chief Minister Nitish Kumar have also contributed to the book, leaving one wondering if these will help Sangma in his aspirations for the Presidential chair.

Sangma, who credits much of his initiation into politics to late Indira Gandhi, rose from a humble background to occupy one of the top political posts, that of the Lok Sabha Speaker.

A post-graduate in political science and a graduate in law, Sangma was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1977. He continued in the Lok Sabha for almost three decades and served as a Cabinet minister and Deputy Minister in ministries such as Commerce, Home and Labour.

“Known for his meticulous homework, complete mastery of subject at hand and phenomenal memory for facts and details, Sangma was one minister who could reply to a heated debate in Parliament without the aid of officials' slips from officers' gallery,” says his profile.

As regards his overall commitment to the cause of the downtrodden, Sangma's role in working for the welfare of workers, particularly the unorganised sector, minorities and tribals has also been highlighted, as has been his support to the idea of caste-based reservations.

Variety of subjects

Sangma's compiled speeches, delivered in both the Houses of Parliament, and lectures on a variety of subjects such as economy, employment, growth, minority welfare, nationalism, natural calamities and natural resources, also include the one he delivered at midnight on the 50th anniversary of India's independence.

While Sangma's chances in the Presidential poll in July may not look bright, the book pitches him as a committed political person, who cares for the country and its people. If nothing else, at least the publishers have got the timing right. The rest remains to be seen.

Published on June 15, 2012

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