The veteran leader is known to have nurtured closeness with several Congress stalwarts of the state, including former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and former defence minister AK Antony
Veteran Kerala Congress (Mani) leader, KM Mani, passed away at 86 on April 9. The towering leader, who served as the chairman of KC(M), had been admitted to the hospital in the first week of April, reportedly due to respiratory problems.
Mani has held the distinguished record of being the longest member of Kerala's Legislative Assembly, having been elected to the assembly for the first time in 1965. He represented his hometown Pala in Kottayam district.
Mani left the Congress to form KC(M) in the 1970s, but he continued to remain an ally of the United Democratic Front (UDF). Recently, UDF leaders had reportedly intervened to broker peace within the KC(M) after reports of infighting in the party.
Entering the cabinet for the first time in 1975, Mani held several key portfolios over decades; including home, finance, law and irrigation in the state governments.
In fact, Mani had the distinction of presenting 13 budgets as the finance minister of Kerala. However, that crowning glory was overshadowed by 2015 corruption allegations against him, which had forced Mani to resign. The scandal, in which Mani was accused of taking bribes in return of giving licences to bars and pubs, had also made Mani walk out of the UDF after three decades of alliance. The KC(M) returned to the alliance in 2018.
The veteran leader is known to have nurtured closeness with several Congress stalwarts of the state, including former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and former defence minister AK Antony. Mani himself missed the chief minister's post in 1979 when he was passed up in favour of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader CH Mohammed Koya.
KC(M), under Mani's leadership, was arguably the most popular and the most successful of Kerala's Congress' many factions. It currently has five legislators in the Kerala assembly. It had, however, its own share of in-fighting. In 2019, for instance, senior party leader PJ Joseph rebelled against Mani after the latter's decision to field a loyalist from Kottayam Lok Sabha seat.With the passing of Mani, the man who held the party and its leaders together for decades, the future of KC(M) and its leadership would be keenly watched.