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Swell’s rejection of Royal Salute

New book by Lanong is a collection of political anecdotes & memories

What was Captain William Sangma’s hobby? How many know that Hoover Hynniewta, besides being an astute leader, was a humorous man? How did Humphry Hadem’s ‘crow’ story make an impact in the Assembly?

If these snippets from Meghalaya’s political history interest you, then the answers can be found in Golden Meghalaya, a new book by veteran politician Bindo M Lanong, who had worked closely with some of the greatest leaders in the state.


The book has interesting anecdotes about leaders like BB Lyngdoh, Mavis Dunn Lyngdoh, Hoping Stone Lyngdoh and E Bareh, among several other politicians. The tri-lingual (English, Khasi-Pnar and Garo) book is a collection of valuable and humorous memories which Lanong salvaged from his decades-old career in politics. Excerpts:

Swell The Vibrant Orator

Prof G.G.Swell, the former Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha and Ambassador, was known for being an astute disciplinarian in life, an early riser and a vibrant orator, health conscious and a confirmed teetotaller.

Hailing from a small but renowned border village of Khasi Hills, Laitkynsew, within close vicinity of Bangladesh borders, a region producing betel-nut (kwai), the traditional chewing habit of the local people.

When he came at loggerheads with leaders of the APHLC, the party that propelled him to climb the political ladder and reach the stature of becoming Member of Parliament, then as Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, the maverick Swell loved to have a big crowd listening to him at Khasi-National Dorbar Hall Mawkhar, his favourite centre. In one of his public meetings he started lambasting the leaders and Ministers of the government for indulging in various wasteful exercises among other mischiefs mentioning the name of a never-heard-of Scotch Whisky then, during the early seventies, the “Royal Salute” costing thousands of rupees a bottle, according to him, that in a new cash-strapped State, the masters can easily afford to drink several bottles of Royal Salute an evening. While the crowd joined in the chorus of wild booing against the government and leaders, he would go on and on.

Royal Salute was launched on 2.6.1953 as a tribute to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her Coronation Day. The name of this exceptional Scotch Whisky comes from a 21 Gun Royal Salute, which is fired as a mark of respect for powerful dignitaries. This rich and complex Whisky is aged for 21 years in Oak Casks, then bottled in porcelain Flagons.

Eccentric Hobbies

During the good early days of the State, one evening 4 leaders casually sat down together in the bungalow of. Chief Minister Capt. W.A. Sangma and while in wait for some other leaders to come, they started chatting and Capt. Sangma asked the Jaintia leader E. Bareh PWD Minister, “Bareh what’s your hobby?” Bareh plainly said, “my hobby is thinking about congestion of Jowai town, day and night.”

“Ok, you keep on thinking. About B.B’s hobby we know, or you have any other hobby than Rummy?” B.B. coolly explained, “Rummy is not only to kill time, but to learn the intricacies and the tricks of the trade in real politics.”

Hopingstone suddenly asked Capt. “you tell Captain your hobby.” Capt. expressed like Bareh, “I relax over a glass of wine, and think of the State more, like Bareh who thinks of Jowai. And what about you? Do you have any hobby, Mr. bachelor?” “Hopingstone immediately blurt out, “my hobby is-lecture.”

Book: Golden Meghalaya; Author: Bindo Mathew Lanong; Pages: 336; Price: Rs 800

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