A book on Kerala`s legend by a veteran journalist

Thiruvananthapuram: When two legends from two of the four pillars of democracy join hands, the end result cannot but turn out to be better than just an interesting book and a pleasurable read.

Maverick Kerala politician K.M. Mani -- state minister of finance and supreme leader of regional outfit Kerala Congress (Mani) -- and veteran journalist K. Govindan Kutty have conjured up such a tome.

`K.M. Mani: A Study in Regionalism` is a 308-page book in English, prized at Rs.400, written by Kutty on the life and times of Mani and published by capital city-based Folio headed by yet another veteran journalist P. Ravindran Nayar, who is the editor-publisher.

The subject matter of the book, Mani, is certainly a fit topic for a detailed case study and Kutty - known for his penchant for writing books that have all turned out to be hugely successful in the past - has given a vivid and complete story of Mani. Written in the most lucid manner, it leaves the reader on the edge of the seat.

"What justifies this book, more than anything else, is the enthusiasm of its subject, K.M. Mani, and his aides. When the idea was broached to me, I had long lapsed into idleness. An acute sense of triviality had affected me. More, I was not sure that Mani would be able to spare for me as much time as should be devoted to anything that approximates to a biography. That made the decision more than hard," reveals Kutty.

Mani, 80, has numerous records to his credit and he would probably go down in the history of the country`s political system as one whose records could well be difficult to beat.

Incidentally, it was in 1965 that Mani contested his first election to the assembly from Palai (now known as Pala) in Kottayam district, which he won.

But the Kerala assembly could not be constituted as none of the eight parties that contested could get a majority on its own nor were they able to join together.

So, it was in 1967 that Mani first became a legislator in Kerala and since then he has won every election from his home constituency, giving him the record of being a legislator for the past 47 years. He also has the unique distinction of presenting a dozen state budgets.

"The part of the life of Mani that held my interest is that he could retain the trust of an assembly constituency, three lakh people or more, for an unbroken half century, almost with the constancy of Meenachil river on whose banks his place, Pala, is perched. That this has happened in our times of increasing cynicism is particularly significant. With such a show of people`s support, he has also won a general endorsement across the political spectrum as one made for the top job, no less," recalls Kutty.

Mani said he has just started to read the book and is planning on where and how to launch it.

When asked about his long-standing dream of going on to become the chief minister of Kerala, "Mani sir", as he is popularly called by his friends and foes, broke into laughter and said: "Let it come, also I can wait. Let it take its natural course."


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