New Delhi, Mar.4: Former prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday condoled the demise of former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma, saying the north-east has lost an important voice. Dr. Singh India has lost one of the tallest leaders from north-east who represented India in various forums as the Speaker of Lok Sabha.  Recalling his contributions as a public representative, the Congress president said that the nation had lost a tall leader.  The Congress vice-president said Sangma’s demise is a great loss to the nation.

“Deepest condolences on the passing away of veteran leader & former LS Speaker Shri PA Sangma. His demise is a great loss to the nation,” he tweeted.  Congress leader Shashi Tharoor also expressed grief at Sangma’s demise, saying he was admired by all.  “It’s deeply saddening and shocking news for all of us because he was in the house till two days ago.

He was a very popular figure whatever the political differences the people may have with him, everyone used to like and admire him because he always used to laugh and was universally liked,” said Tharoor.  ” Our thoughts, our prayers go out to him and his family. This is a tragic development and India has lost a very important north-east leader.

The whole country should mourn his passing,” he added.  Congress leader Renuka Chowdhary on her part said Sangma’s memories would always remain with the people of this country.  “He was a wonderful orator, who always had a smiling face. His memory will always be with us,” Chowhdary said. (Also Read: P.A Sangma was a ‘self-made leader’ says Narendra Modi)

Sangma, who unsuccessfully contested the presidential election as an opposition candidate against Pranab Mukherjee, was 68 years old.  The former Meghalaya chief minister was elected to the Lok Sabha eight times since his first entry to the Lower House in 1977. He was the Lok Sabha Speaker between 1996 and 1998.

Sangma was expelled from the Congress in 1999 along with Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar for raising a banner of revolt against Sonia Gandhi over her foreign origin issue. Subsequently, the trio formed the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).  However, he left the NCP in 2004 and formed a regional party, which later merged with Trinamool Congress. He later rejoined the NCP, but only to part ways with it later and unsuccessfully contested the presidential election against Pranab Mukherjee. He was supported by BJP, BJD, AIADMK and others.