To-be minister M M Mani a controversial pick for Kerala Cabinet

It comes as no surprise that those outside the CPM remember the party state secretariat member and now minister-designate for the controversies he has stirred.
MM Mani
MM Mani

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: For much of his life as a CPM man, M M Mani has been party secretary in the politically sensitive high-range district of Idukki. The outspoken septuagenarian — often described tactless by his own party men — holds the distinction of being the CPM’s longest-serving district secretary.

It comes as no surprise that those outside the CPM remember the party state secretariat member and now minister-designate for the controversies he has stirred.

Mani’s infamous speech on the party tactics of killing off political foes still does the rounds on YouTube. “The first three were killed first. One was shot dead. One was stabbed to death and the other one was beaten to death,” Mani boastfully announced at a public meeting in 2012, kicking up a political storm. He was forced to step down as district secretary and a police case was registered against him.

As a CPM man, Mani rose from through ranks, proving his mettle as a union leader in the farmers’ struggles in the hills. He was born as the seventh child of Madhavan and Janaki of Mundakkal house, Kidangoor, Kottayam. Young Mani arrived in the hilly areas of Idukki when his parents moved there in the 1950s.

The hills in Idukki district would later become Mani’s stronghold, where he grew as a leader who fought against plantation workers’ struggles. Joining the party aged 22 in 1965, Mani made his name fighting eviction movements of the 1960s and the 1970s. He was appointed local secretary in Bison Valley in 1970 and Rajakkad in 1971. Three years later, Mani became a member of the district committee, and in 1977, he was appointed to the district secretariat.

A nine-time CPM district secretary, he also holds the distinction of being the longest serving person in the post. He first became Idukki district secretary in 1985, a post which became his again in 1988, 1991, 1993, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2012. He was forced to step down in 2012 courtesy his infamous speech revealing the party’s “tactics” of physically eliminating political foes.

Once a staunch V S Achuthanandan loyalist, Mani is said to have switched over to the Pinarayi Vijayan camp following the ruckus over the controversial Munnar evictions.

His first attempt to the Kerala Assembly came in the 1996 elections. Mani took on E M Augusthy from Udumbanchola, but lost by a margin of over 3,000 votes. Since then, he more or less remained aloof from parliamentary politics. In the 2016 May Assembly elections, he defeated  Congress’s Senapathy Venu in Udumbanchola to become a first-time MLA. Mani is married to Lakshmikutty. The couple has five children; Sathi (panchayat president, Rajakkad), Shyamala, Suma (panchayat member, Rajakumari), Geetha and Ani.

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