Kochi: Kerala Congress(M) chairman and former state Finance Minister K M Mani, who had been one of the leading figures of Kerala politics for nearly five decades, died at a private hospital here Tuesday.
The health condition of Mani (86) who had been undergoing treatment at the VPS Lakeshore hospital here for pulmonary disease, “took a churn for the worse by 11 AM” and he breathed his last at 4.57 PM, hospital sources said.
Mani had been suffering from COPD (Chronic Obstructive pulmonary disease) for several years and had frequently been hospitalised for chest infection.
He was again hospitalised on Friday for chest infection.
Though he showed sign of improvement, his condition worsened on Tuesday, the sources said.
Hundreds of people, including leaders of various political parties, visited the hospital and paid their homage to the departed leader.
His body will be taken to Kottayam on Wednesday morning to enable his followers and friends pay their last respects and later, to his home town Pala.
The funeral will be held on Thursday at 2 PM at the cemetry in St Thomas Cathedral, Pala, party leaders said.
Mani, who had been an MLA of Pala assembly constituency for over five decades, is survived by his wife and six children, including Kerala Congress(M) Vice-Chairman and Rajya Sabha MP Jose K Mani.
He represented the constituency for 54 years without a break till his death.
The veteran leader was fondly called Mani Sir by his followers and friends in politics, cutting across party lines.
As Finance Minister he presented 13 budgets over the years.
The Assembly had witnessed absolute bedlam on March 13, 2015 when Mani, who had been at the centre of controversy over the bar bribery scam, rose to present the 13th budget.
Opposition parties had accused him of taking bribes from bar owners for granting licences.
This forced him to resign as finance minister from the Oommen Chandy-led government.
The bar-bribery scam cast a shadow over Mani’s decades long political career.
The Kerala Congress(M), led by Mani, is a key ally of the Congress-led UDF in the state.
Mani had quit the alliance over differences with the leaders of the state Congress following UDF’s defeat in the Assembly polls in 2016.
The party returned to the UDF fold last year after settling the differences with the Congress.
Active in state politics till recently, Mani fell ill days after declaring his close confidante and Kerala Congress(M) leader Thomas Chazhikadan as the UDF candidate in Kottayam Lok Sabha seat.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Kerala Governor P Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala assembly Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan, Congress leader K C Venugopal and BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai were among the leaders who condoled his death.