Five years without Mani: Changes many but void remains

Known for his political acumen, Mani, fondly known as ‘Mani Sir’ played a crucial role in sustaining Kerala Congress’ influence in state politics and solidifying KC(M)’s position as a formidable political entity.
Five years without Mani: Changes many but void remains

KOTTAYAM : After a two-day leadership camp at Charalkunnu in Pathanamthitta in August 2016, Kerala Congress (M) chairman K M Mani announced the party’s decision to leave the UDF following a rift within the coalition. Subsequently, mediapersons sought his response to the CPM’s call to join the LDF.

Using his famous political manoeuvring skills, Mani cleverly replied, “Everyone is attracted to a beautiful woman,” thus keeping the party’s options open in both alliances. Mani, however, ultimately returned to the UDF after a 22-month-long hiatus, securing a Rajya Sabha berth for his son Jose K Mani.

Known for his political acumen, Mani, fondly known as ‘Mani Sir’ played a crucial role in sustaining Kerala Congress’ influence in state politics and solidifying KC(M)’s position as a formidable political entity. Monday marks the fifth year of demise of the legendary leader of Kerala politics. Mani was a central figure in Central Travancore politics and his death on April 9, 2019, during the peak of the Lok Sabha elections was a significant moment in state’s political landscape.

In the five years since, the state’s politics has undergone significant changes. Two months after Mani’s demise, KC(M), the party formed by Mani, saw a vertical split with Jose K Mani and P J Joseph parting ways to separate factions. In October 2020, Jose-led KC(M) severed its nearly four-decade-long ties with the UDF and became a part of the LDF. This shift in alliances has reshaped the political dynamics in Kerala, highlighting the enduring legacy of Mani in the state’s political history.

Speaking to TNIE, Jose said KC(M) has been able to uphold the legacy and relevance of the Kerala Congress in state politics even five years of the passing of Mani. “When Mani Sir was alive, everyone felt at ease as we only needed to follow his lead. However, when I took up the responsibility of leading the party, it presented a significant challenge. We encountered opposition from within and outside the party, leading to our expulsion from the UDF. After a lengthy legal battle, we were able to retain our party name and symbol. Now, we have established a strong presence within the LDF, with a total of 18 feeder organisations,” Jose said.

Jose emphasised that his father’s strong emotional connect with the people will be reflected in the upcoming polls. “Mani Sir was instrumental in transforming Kottayam with his visionary leadership. The development in the region is a testament to his efforts,” he said.

Meanwhile, some of Mani’s followers believe that the KC(M) would not have split had Mani been alive. “There were attempts by certain individuals to bring the KC(M) to the LDF fold. However, Mani and senior leaders, including C F Thomas, thwarted the move,” said Joy Abraham, a trusted associate of Mani and secretary general of the Joseph faction.

Mani always upheld KC(M) as a significant force within the UDF, he said. “Despite being part of the government, the KC(M) has failed to address its supporters’ concerns. While Mani was a powerful voice in Kerala politics, the current leadership fears opening its mouth before the CM,” he said.

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