Veteran politician K.M. Mani on Wednesday completed 50 years as a legislator in the Kerala assembly — elected every time from Pala constituency in Kottayam. Beginning his career in the Congress, Mani later formed his Kerala Congress (Mani) which has been a part of both the CPI-M-led Left grouping and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
Last year, he severed ties with the UDF and he with five other legislators now sits as an independent block in the assembly. Among the records that will stay with Mani for a while include holding the finance portfolio for the longest period and presenting 13 state budgets.
Glowing tributes were paid to Mani – always referred to as Mani Sir – in the assembly on Wednesday. Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan said Mani had written himself into world parliamentary records.
“The biggest hallmark of his is that all through his five decades as a legislator, he has always dealt with criticism with humour.”
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan pointed out that technically Mani would have completed 50 years as a legislator two years back. Even though Mani won his first election in 1965 from Pala, at that time the Kerala assembly failed to be convened as no party got the majority to form a government.
Watch What Else Is Making News
“I really doubt if this record can ever be broken by anyone in India. The highlight is Mani has won every election from Pala and he won while being a member of the traditional rival fronts,” Vijayan said.
“He is a shining example for all legislators and one of his hallmarks is his attendance record in the assembly.”
The only other person who was a member of the 1970 assembly and who is still a member is former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, but he was not present in the house on Wednesday.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala termed Mani “as a rare phenomenon in the history of democracy”.
“Mani Sir always did his homework, be it before a speech in the assembly or while addressing a press conference.”
Revenue Minister and CPI leader E. Chandrasekheran said there were many in the assembly now who were not even born when Mani became a legislator on this day 50 years ago.
Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy described Mani as a phenomenon.
Mani’s long-time foe P.C. George also saluted the veteran. “Mani Sir and I never had the best of relations… Nevertheless his achievement is historic.”
Mani said he felt deeply honoured.
“Now I realise that some people who I thought are my enemies are not enemies but friends.”
Saluting the voters of Pala, he said: “With folded hands, I bow before all of you for honouring me like this.”
The only blip in his 50 years in the assembly came in 2015 when he was forced to resign as Finance Minister following an adverse court remark in what came to be known as the bar scam case.