The wit and wisdom of Purno Agitok Sangma (A Tribute)

New Delhi, March 4 (IANS) Purno Agitok Sangma, former Lok Sabha speaker and acclaimed politician from the northeast known for his wit and humour, who passed away on Friday, said that God had four boxes with him when he created India.

“When God created India and the people of India, he had four boxes to distribute,” Sangma said in an article titled “Peace in Northeast” in the book “Peace Initiative – Northeast India Perspective”, edited by Thomas Vattathara and Elizabeth George.

“The first one was to be distributed to the people of the North. When God opened it, he found that it was ‘beauty’,” Sangma, who was serving as the chairman of the Northeast MPs’ Forum till the time of his death, wrote.

“The people were not happy at that, they were worried that if the North had taken beauty, what would be left for them? God told them not to worry that he had something special for them,” Sangma continued.

He said when God opened the second box, it was the box of “brains”.

“Thus, you find most of the thinkers, and those who run this country are from the South. So the people from West questioned that if both ‘brains’ and ‘beauty’ are lost, then what is left for them?”

God, wrote Sangma, assured them that they need not worry, and would get whatever they deserve.

“He opened the third box one and it was the box of ‘wealth’. So you find Maharashtra and Gujarat are very wealthy states.”

The people of the northeast, Sangma quipped, then asked what was left for them if beauty, brain and wealth were all gone.

“God opened the fourth box and found that it was the box of ’emotions and ego’. Therefore, we are very ’emotional and ego-centric people’. I would like to add the brighter side of us – we are musical and singing people.”

Sangma sent the audience of hundreds into splits when he narrated the same at the Northeast MPs’ Forum meet at the Constitution Club in New Delhi in August last year.

“You see, we people from the East have this ego – ‘Moi Axomiya’, or ‘Aami Bangali’,” he said during the meeting on August 4.

Sitting beside him were Gaurav Gogoi, Assam MP and son of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, and union Ministers from the northeast Kiren Rijiju and Sarbananda Sonowal among others.

Gogoi was among the 25 Congress MPs who were suspended the previous day from the Lok Sabha for five consecutive sittings for causing disruptions over the Lalit Modi and Vyapam scams.

Sangma said that he was very happy that Gaurav Gogoi was suspended from the Lok Sabha because it brought attention to MPs from the northeast.

“I am very happy. Gaurav is appearing all over the TV channels,” he said as the MP in question squirmed and smiled and Rijiju and Sonowal could not help repressing generous grins.

Sangma’a stint as the Lok Sabha Speaker from 1996 to 1998 is remembered for his handling of the house with wit, humour and wisdom.

He also served as a teacher in Don Bosco, Dibrugarh, where union minister Sonowal, the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate for Assam for the April assembly elections, was his student.

(Aroonim Bhuyan too was student of Sangma in Don Bosco, Dibrugarh. He can be contacted at

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