KM Mani passes away in a Kochi hospital on Tuesday
Mani won his first assembly election in 1965 but the assembly was not summoned. Two years later, he ceremoniously became a legislator for the first time.
One of modern Kerala's tallest political leaders Karingozhakkal Mani Mani, or K M Mani, passed away on Tuesday. The Kerala Congress-Mani chairman, 86, was undergoing treatment for a chronic pulmonary ailment in a Kochi hospital as he had been unwell since January and, breathed his last at 4.57pm. He's survived by his wife and six children.
An MLA for a record 54 years and undefeated from a single constituency, Pala, 13 times, Mani was finance minister 11 times and won every conceivable political laurel, except, of course, the most prized one: The chief minister's post eluded him despite his best efforts, an indirect admission that the 'regionalism' and 'reformism' he espoused was always secondary in a society and political milieu fixated on universalist ideas and causes.
Bar case the only blot on his career
As he was enormously popular at the grassroots level, Mani's ready intelligence and extemporaneous liveliness were a foil to the ready ruthlessness with which he often challenged opponents, most of them friends-turned-foes.
Even though, Mani won his first assembly election in 1965 but the assembly was not summoned. Two years later, he ceremoniously became a legislator for the first time. In 1975, Mani first became a minister in the Achutha Menon cabinet and since then was a fixture in the cabinets of E K Nayanar, P K Vasudevan Nair, C H Mohammed Koya, K Karunakaran, A K Antony and Oommen Chandy. Moreover, as finance minister, he presented 13 budgets, making another record, and is widely attributed for having prominent financial statements to something much beyond a book-keeping exercise.
The alleged bar scandal was the only black spot on his long career, when he was blamed for taking a Rs. 1 crore bribe for recommencing authorizations of 400 bars in 2014. Mani resigned as finance minister in Nov 2015, after the Kerala high court deliberately mentioned on his connection in the case.
He separated his path altogether with UDF and Congress in 2016, he was their associate for more than four decades, blaming its governance of not standing by him but, perennial pragmatist that he was, returned to the fold two years later. Politically conscious Kerala didn't bat an eyelid. They were always at home with K M Mani.