Veteran politician KM Mani, who strode over Kerala politics like a kingmaker for over five decades, had a not so happy ending. He was the longest serving Minister in Kerala, handled various portfolios with deft, but never could become the Chief Minister.
It was a slip between the lip and the cup in 2011. The LDF was short of majority by two seats which left the Congress-led UDF at an advantage. An LDF win would have meant VS Achuthanandan becoming the Chief Minister again which apparently was not to the party leadership's liking. Party insiders say that if at least six 'strong’ candidates had been put up then, the LDF would have come back to power.
The CPM tried wooing Mani with the offer of chief ministership as Achuthanandan was the party's 'enemy’ then. Two senior leaders were in discussions with Mani and around the time things were to be announced, VS dropped the bombshell, “The LDF accepts the people's mandate. We will sit in the Opposition.” With that the last straw for Mani to fulfill his ultimate political goal crumbled.
Another thing that would have certainly left Mani sad was the bar bribery scam he had to face at the fag end of his career and even being forced to resign as Minister when the court said that even Caesar's wife should be above suspicion.
A bar owner alleged that Mani, the Finance Minister more than four years ago had accepted a bribe of Rs 1 crore and promised to open bars, closed after a one-upmanship of factions in the Congress. Bar owner Biju Radhakrishnan claimed that Mani received this amount in three installments. He had promised to review the government's liquor policy which allowed sale of alcohol only in five-star hotels.
The case had its twists and turns with initially the vigilance bureau finding him guilty and then going back on its report. Finally, Mani quit over the High Court remarks. But no solid evidence against Mani was furnished. As of now the case remains frozen and will in all probability end there.. But the damage was done.
Mani would also not have wanted to remember the last budget he presented in the Assembly in 2015 when it was total chaos as a he LDF did not want a ‘tainted’ Minister to present the budget. Opposition MLAs and watch and ward staff were in a scuffle and the Speaker’s chair went flying out of the podium.
Outside the House it was literally a war zone and inside the Left MLAs were after Mani and the watch and ward staff had a tough time controlling the MLAs who had literally gone berserk. Unaffected by the happenings around Mani cut short his budget presentation to six minutes. But Mani who had presented 13 state budgets would certainly not have wanted to remember the last.