Kochi: One of the tallest leader in Kerala politics and leader of the Kerala Congress (M), K. M. Mani, passed away at a private hospital in Kochi today. He was 86.
Mani holds the record for being a MLA in the Kerala Assembly for 51 years. Over the decades, he had held many Cabinet posts which includes Finance, Home, Revenue, Irrigation, Law, Housing, and Electricity. He holds the record for being the longest serving MLA from the State.
He started off in politics as a local leader of Congress and became a KPCC member in 1959. He soon left Congress protesting against the party’s ill treatment of then Home Minister and senior Congress leader P. T. Chacko. After the demise of Chacko, 15 MLAs of the Congress broke off from the party and began a new chapter in Kerala politics, the Kerala Congress Party.
K. M. Mani joined the party and rose quickly to become Chief of the party. An astute politician and orator, he navigated through the complex variables of Kerala politics and also build his party from strength to strength. He soon became the most powerful regional leader of Kerala.
At one time the party could boast of 25 MLAs in the Kerala Legislative Assembly.
His party’s strong hold spreads in and around Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, and Idukki districts, a region known to be a Christian belt . Though, his political philosophy was centered around farming and agriculture, he was backed by the powerful Christian Church and his continuous victories in election after election were a result of a consolidation of the Christian votes of the region.
Though, Kerala Congress went through an innumerable splits and tie ups, the prominence of K. M. Mani survived more or less intact. By the end of his life, the faction that he led had reduced in size in the Assembly.
K. M. Mani, was a politician who had friends across the political spectrum including the BJP. In more than one instance, there were rumours that the leader was in discussions with the BJP.
With the death of the veteran leader, an era comes to an end in Kerala politics. High range politics will now have new equations. How the future of Kerala Congress (M) without Mani will unfold is something only time can tell.