Pala: A large number of people with teary eyes on Thursday bid farewell to veteran politician and Kerala Congress-Mani Chairman, K.M. Mani, who passed away in Kochi on Tuesday.
Right from the morning, thousands of people lined up to pay their respect to Mani at his residence here. With time running out, many failed to get a last glimpse of the senior politician.
Most of Kerala's who's who paid their homage to Mani on his last journey, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, former Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony, former Chief Ministers Oommen Chandy and V.S. Achuthanandan, superstar Mammootty and a host of state Ministers and senior bureaucrats, among others.
Mani's body was later moved to the St. Thomas Cathedral, where his last rites were performed with full state honours.
Catholic Bishop's Conference of India (CBCI) President Cardinal Moran Mar Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, who's also the head of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church, led the funeral ceremony along with other bishops and priests.
The local television channels telecast Mani's last journey for close to three hours. Mani was probably one of Kerala's tallest politicians, who despite his best efforts could never became the Chief Minister of the state.
Mani was suffering from a lung ailment and was admitted to the hospital for the past one week. He had been unwell since January.
After joining the undivided Kerala Congress in 1965, Mani went on to become its undisputed leader. However, the party underwent several splits over the years.
Mani's record of being the longest-serving legislator in the Kerala Assembly began in 1967 when he represented his home constituency Pala in Kottayam district from where he won a record 13 elections.
After becoming a state Minister for the first time 1975, he served as a Minister in six other governments. He still remains the only state Minister to present 13 budgets.
Kerala Congress-Mani is the third biggest ally of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF). As a mark of respect, the UDF suspended all election campaigns on Thursday till Mani's last rites were performed.