Kochi: Kerala Congress leader KM Mani, one of India’s longest-serving legislators and representative of Pala constituency in Kottayam ever since its formation, passed away at a private hospital in Kochi. He was admitted in the hospital for respiratory-related illness in the first week of April.

A medical bulletin said the veteran leader had been suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for many years and had developed an acute chest infection.

Mani did not participate in the election campaign for the first time since 1965 because he was unwell. 

Crucial party decisions are now being taken by his son Jose K Mani and his wife Nisha Jose to appease loyalists.

Mani remained as an important cabinet figure in the years 1975-77, 77-79, 80-81, 81-86, 87, 91-96, 2001-06 and 2011-2015 as he handled key portfolios of finance, law, revenue and irrigation. He has also held the record for presenting the highest number of budgets in the state – 13.

He had served as chairman of the empowered committee of state finance ministers on Goods & Services Tax (GST) from March-November 2015.

In 2015 he had to resign as the finance minister as he was accused of taking bribes in exchange for providing licenses to bars and pubs serving alcohol.

The court originally charged Mani as the only accused in the bribery case following a probe conducted by the vigilance. Mani was acquitted after two investigation reports submitted by Kerala Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) during the tenure of the UDF government.

The court had refuted these reports following demands from several leaders including VS Achuthanandan. The VACB later acquitted Mani in the third report as well.