Meanwhile, advocate Harish Vasudevan, who criticised the government for allocating funds for KM Mani foundation in state budget, is set to challenging the decision in court.

Political decency Finance Minister defends allocating funds for KM Mani memorial
news Controversy Sunday, February 09, 2020 - 10:34

When Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac announced that an amount of Rs 5 crore has been earmarked for KM Mani Foundation to construct a monument building, it raised several eyebrows, with some criticising the government for the decision. The Minister made the announcement while presenting the state annual budget on Friday.

The Finance Minister said that it was only “political decency” to allocate funds for the memorial as people respected the late Congress leader. “Mani’s role in state politics cannot be ignored. The memorial is significant. It’s the duty of the government and there is nothing wrong in allocating funds for this,” said Thomas Isaac.

KM Mani's son and Rajya Sabha member Jose K Mani, too, thanked Isaac for the recognition. Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, too, favoured the government’s decision, “There is nothing political in it and it's only natural that a political stalwart gets a fitting monument,” Ramesh Chennithala said on Saturday. However, the party seems divided on this.

Taking a dig at the LDF government, Congress MLA VT Balram wrote on Facebook, "Out of the Rs 5 crore, Rs 500 offered by a noted filmmaker can be deducted, and the remaining Rs 4,99,99,500 need to be only taken from the state treasury, right?". Balram's post is believed to be in reference to director Aashiq Abu's statement in 2015, when KM Mani was the Finance Minister. Aashiq Abu had said that he will offer Rs 500 to KM Mani, who is 'poor' and forced to take bribes.

Meanwhile, a section of people took to social media to criticise the state government for this move. "Will anyone have any benefit by building this Rs 5 crore worth memorial? This money could be used for those who lost everything in the floods," wrote a Facebook user.

"This was unwanted. The mentioned leader is no way a role model and allocating portion of budget is just a political game and abuse of power," said another user.

Some pointed out the fact that CPI(M)-led LDF (Left Democratic Front) had earlier locked horns with Congress-led UDF (United Democratic Front) following the bar scam involving KM Mani. In 2015, when KM Mani was the Finance Minister, the Assembly witnessed a massive protest from LDF when he was presenting the state budget, because of the bar scam.

"Hasn't the 'kutty' comrades who booed and blocked KM Mani, heard that Isaac gave Rs 5 crore to building a memorial. What have you guys become now?" wrote a person on Facebook.

Advocate Harish Vasudevan, a critic and environmental activist, expressed opposition with the government for allocating money for such a purpose in the state budget.

“If Pinarayi Vijayan is so keen, let him give the money to Jose K Mani from the LDF fund. The money in the state treasury is not taken from the Karingozhakkal family (KM Mani’s family name) that it can be allotted for the memorial. Which is the rule that gives permission for the government to grant funds to build a memorial for deceased politicians by their families,” wrote Harish.

Harish also said that he will be moving the court, challenging allocating funds for KM Mani foundation. “Legally, I might fail, but I will challenge this decision in court. History must not mark that you did this without any voice of dissent,” he added.

Mani, a sitting legislator after having won for 52 years without losing a single election, and with an enviable record of presenting 13 budgets (two more than Isaac), passed away last year.

Over the years since 2006, Isaac and Mani alternated in the chair of Finance Minister, and inside the Assembly, it was always an interesting battle between the two, when it came to finances, with none willing to give away anything to the other.

And eventually, following an adverse remark from the Kerala High Court, Mani had to quit. If there was one single point of the campaign to the 2016 Assembly elections, it was the bar scam that gave the CPI(M)-led Left a stunning victory.

Since the death of Mani, his party, the Kerala Congress (Mani), has split, with one faction led by his son and the other by senior legislator PJ Joseph.

(With inputs from IANS)

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