Kerala Congress (M) supremo and one of the most prominent politicians of Kerala, KM Mani passed away on Tuesday evening. The 86-year-old had been undergoing treatment at the Lakeshore hospital for unknown ailments and had been admitted there since Thursday last week.
Mani’s health had been deteriorating for a while now, resulting in him being frequently hospitalised for chest infections in the recent past. In his most recent stay at the hospital, he was kept under close medical supervision. Visitors’ access to him was restricted so as to avoid further infection.
The veteran politician had a career spanning over five decades and had been leading the KC(M) since its inception in 1979, after it split from the Kerala Congress. Among the factions that came out of the Kerala Congress split, KC(M) is one of the few ones that continues to be prominent. The longest-serving member of the Kerala Legislative Assembly for 52 years, Mani represented the constituency of Pala this entire time. He is the only politician to be elected from the same constituency for 13 consecutive elections.
KM Mani held several portfolios. He was the Finance Minister four times and the Law Minister seven times. However, many of these were not complete five-year terms. He also held portfolios of revenue, home and irrigation. He had the unique achievement of having presented 13 budgets as the Finance Minister too.
Mani enjoyed plenty of influence in Kerala, and especially found favour with the Christian community. His party KC(M) was a part of the Congress-led UDF coalition.
In the last few decades, Mani remained the unquestionable leader of the Kerala Congress (M) party. Even for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he displayed his strength in the party and batted for Thomas Chazhikkadan, one of his trusted lieutenants, to be made the candidate from Kottayam constituency. Though the party working chairman PJ Joseph was adamant that he would contest from Kottayam, Mani finally managed to garner support of majority of the party workers.
Mani was a pragmatic politician and even parted ways with the Congress following the bar bribery scam - perhaps the biggest challenge and taint in his career. Mani ended his four-decade long association with the UDF in 2016. He had accused a section of the Congress of working against him. He rejoined the UDF in June 2018. But during the time when KC (M) was not part of the UDF, Mani had even contemplated joining the LDF. That however did not work out due to the firm stand taken against him by the CPI, the second largest constituent in the coalition. Mani was accused of taking a bribe of Rs 1 crore to renew the licenses of 400 bars in 2014. The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) had probed the case. In September 2018, a court in Thiruvananthapuram rejected a report by the VACB absolving him in the case.
Mani was also an author of several books, including Fiscal Problems of Kerala-Causes and Remedial Measures, The People’s Socialism, The Eighth Five year Plan-an Alternative Approach and Doctrine of Toiling Class to name a few.
Mani's son Jose K Mani is a Rajya Sabha member. He had won the Kottayam Lok Sabh seat in 2014. Jose K Mani is also vice-chairman of KC (M).
Mani is also survived by his wife Annamma Mani and five daughters.