KM Mani’s death leaves his expat fans devastated in UAE
Keralite expat Abraham P Sunny says he has never felt this desolate, not even when his own father passed away. But as the death of KM Mani, Kerala’s longest-serving legislator and the Chairman of the Kerala Congress (Mani), was confirmed on Tuesday (April 9), Sunny broke down like a child.
“I have been praying on my knees since last four days for his speedy recovery. I cannot express my loss in words. He was my teacher, my father.,” Sunny, a businessman from Dubai, who is also the President of the Kerala Congress’ expat offshoot, Pravasi Kerala Congress, told Khaleej Times.
Mani, 86, died on Tuesday at 4.57pm at a hospital in Kochi where he was admitted for a chest infection. The politician had been suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease for years. Condolences have been pouring in from all quarters with political leaders across the spectrum expressing grief at the passing away of the veteran legislator.
“Shri KM Mani was a stalwart of Kerala politics. His impeccable electoral record indicated his deep connection with the citizens of the state. His rich contribution to the state will be remembered. Pained by his demise. Condolences to his family and supporters. RIP” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
But the demise of the man who dominated Kerala politics for more than four decades meant nothing less than despair for party workers and people from Pala from where Mani had been a legislative member for the past 50 years. He was the only politician to represent Pala since 1967 and had served as finance minister, home minister and electricity minister in various cabinets.
“Pala is Mani sir. And Mani sir is Pala,” said Sunny, who was on his way to the airport to attend Mani’s funeral in Kerala when he spoke to Khaleej Times. His long association with ‘Mani sir’ – as the veteran leader was fondly addressed by his partymen and rivals alike – began during his student politics days.
“There is no one like Mani sir in politics today. He was truly.. truly a people’s leader. But also a misunderstood politician,” said a grief-stricken Sunny, who has been living in the UAE for 34 years now.
“He transformed Pala into a place that can be pitted against international standards. The roads, infrastructure, charity projects, welfare programmes for farmers and workers – everything had his unique signature.”
Another Keralite expat Joseph Chacko, a teacher from Dubai, said he was still in shock.
“It is an irreparable loss. He was a true leader who could accept everyone irrespective of their political standing. He had a great personal equation with everyone.”