KM Mani, the chairman of Kerala Congress (Mani) and the longest serving legislator in the state, passed away at a hospital in Kochi at the age of 86 on Tuesday.
“I’m sorry to hear about the passing of Shri K M Mani, a highly respected & beloved leader of the Kerala Congress who was elected MLA a record 13 times. My condolences to his family, friends & supporters in this time of grief. May his soul rest in peace,” tweeted the Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
The legislator was being treated for chest infection at the VPS Lakeshore hospital, and was reportedly admitted last Thursday. He had been suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD for years and had frequently been hospitalised for chest infection.
The veteran leader was elected to the Kerala Legislative Assembly for the first time in 1965 from Pala constituency of Kottayam district and never lost an election and continued to represent the constituency till his death.
He remained a cabinet figure in the years 1975-77, 77-79, 80-81, 81-86, 87, 91-96, 2001-06 and 2011-2015 as he handled finance, law, revenue and irrigation. He held the record for presenting the most number of 13 budgets in the state.
He also served as chairman of the empowered committee of state finance ministers on Goods & Services Tax (GST) from March-November 2015.
However in 2015 he was forced to resign as the finance minister after being accused of taking bribes in exchange for giving licenses to bars and pubs serving alcohol.
The scandal, commonly known as the bar-bribery scam, resulted in a lot of brickbats for Mani and sought to tarnish his otherwise illustrious public life. The scandal also severed his party’s relationship with the Congress and resulted in his walking out of the UDF after three-and-a-half decades.
“Shri KM Mani was a stalwart of Kerala politics. His impeccable electoral record indicated his deep connect with the citizens of the state. His rich contribution to the state will be remembered. Pained by his demise. Condolences to his family and supporters. RIP,” tweeted Prime Minister Modi offering his condolences.