Controversial Communist MM Mani to become Kerala Power Minister
- MM Mani, a senior leader from Idukki, emerged from among the tea garden workers of Munnar.
- A school dropout, poverty forced Mani to take up wage labour as a teenager.
The Communist Party of India Marxist (CPM) state committee on Sunday decided to induct controversial CPM leader MM Mani from Idukki into the Pinarayi Vijayan Ministry in Kerala. Chief Minister will take a formal decision on the new minister and the portfolios.
CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said after the state committee meeting that the party has recommended Mani for a ministerial berth. The Chief Minister will decide on the portfolio, he added.
Mani, a senior communist leader who emerged from among the tea garden workers of Idukki, will be the power minister in the cabinet, reports say. His entry into the minister follows the unceremonious exit of CPM central committee member EP Jayarajan, who had to resign after a nepotism row last month.
The induction of Mani, an MLA from Udumbanchola, into the cabinet also necessitates a reallocation of portfolios. Besides power portfolio, Mani will also hold the Devaswom department, Asianet News reports quoting party sources. AC Moitheen will be shifted to the Industries Department while the present Power Minister Kadakampally Surendran will now be in charge of Cooperatives and Tourism. Moitheen will also get sports and youth welfare portfolios.
Mani, popularly known as Maniyasan, is also a man infamous for his provocative statements that often put the CPM and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in a difficult spot. He recently created a flutter int he LDF by calling Communist Party of India (CPI) ministers in the Vijayan ministry 'stupid.' He even said that the ministers had brought shame on the ministry, inviting sharp reaction from the second largest partner in the LDF.
Mani made headlines in India and abroad in 2012 and faced murder charges by bragging in a party rally that his party had killed political rivals in the past. The CPM would continue to do the same, he had stated.
In the infamous '1,2,3 statement,' he further explained how the party did it. "We made a list of 13 people who worked against the party and made it public. One, two, three... We killed the first three of them. One was killed by the bullet; another one stabbed. The third one was beaten to death," he said, igniting a big controversy in the state, following which Mani was removed as the district secretary of the CPM.
Despite controversies, Mani remains hugely popular among the workers in Idukki and Munnar in particular because he emerged from among them as a teenage worker in the tea gardens and people relate to him as a leader of the masses. After poverty forced him to take up the job of wage labourer in the plantations at a very young age, Mani slowly rose to become a worker's leader, fighting for their rights without any compromise. Toughened by the harsh realities of life, Mani could weather many political storms and face the ups and downs in his distinctive style.
Speaking over the phone, Mani told Asianet News that he was happy that the party entrusted him the top job. "It is very unexpected. I am happy and I am indebted to the party for entrusting the big responsibility. I could reach this position just because I am part of Communist party," he added. "I am a very common man, coming from a very backward social background. I am a humble worker of CPM for 50 years now and was the district secretary of the party for nearly 27 years."