Shillong, Nov 18 (UNI) Former Meghalaya Chief Minister Darwin Diengdoh Pugh passed away at his Kenches Trace residence here late last night. He was 81.
Mr Pugh had been ailing for sometime. He is survived by his wife Esther Pugh, a daughter and a son.
Chief Minister Dr Donkupar Roy was among the first to condole the political stalwart's demise. In a message to the family, he described Mr Pugh as a ''man of integrity and a great political leader''.
Leader of Opposition D D Lapang echoed him and said the state has lost another ''noble son of the soil''.
Assembly Speaker Bindo M Lanong also condoled the death of Mr Pugh.
Mr Pugh joined active politics in the early 1960s and was elected as member of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council in 1967-72.
He was nominated as KHADC member from June 28, 1994, and later quit the Council on June 21, 1996.
His maiden entry to the first state Assembly was in in 1972, when he was elected on the All Party Hill All Party Hill Leaders Conference (APHLC) ticket from Nongskhen constituency, bordering Bangladesh.
He was inducted as Minister of State in the second Cabinet of Captain Williamson A Sangma and later elevated as a Cabinet Minister.
Mr Pugh successfully returned to the 60-member House from Mawkhar constituency as an APHLC candidate.
He was sworn in as Chief Minister on March 10, 1978, of the APHLC-led Meghalaya United Legislative Party government with the support of two regional parties - the Public Demand Implementation Committee (PDIC) and Hill State People's Democratic Party (HSPDP) - and Independents.
Perhaps, Mr Pugh is the only leader who assumed the Chief Minister's office through a draw of lots, which was the method used to settle the disputed post among the coalition partners.
When this government collapsed after a few months he resumed the Chief Minister chair heading a new coalition formed by the APHLC-PDIC for another short tenure from February 21, 1979 to May 5, 1979. He later left the APHLC and joined the Congress.
Mr Pugh will be laid to rest at the Mawkhar Presbyterian Church Cemetery tomorrow. However, the governmnet is tightlipped whether state will accord a state funeral to the former Chief Minister.
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