Nation Current Affairs 06 Dec 2016 Jayalalithaa often s ...

Jayalalithaa often sought Cho Ramaswamy’s counsel

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | R BHAGWAN SINGH
Published Dec 6, 2016, 1:44 am IST
Updated Dec 6, 2016, 4:40 am IST
AIADMK leader J. Jayalalithaa cheers up an ailing Cho Ramaswamy at Apollo Hospitals recently.
 AIADMK leader J. Jayalalithaa cheers up an ailing Cho Ramaswamy at Apollo Hospitals recently.

When she visited Cho Ramaswamy at the Apollo Hospital during August 2015, Jayalalithaa told him in her own ebullient manner that he must soon get back on his feet as she always needed him as a friend, philosopher and guide, till the very last. And good friend Cho kept his word; though, ironically, he is now back at the Apollo and is in the intensive care unit pretty close to where she was admitted. The 82-year-old multifaceted genius, a fearless campaigner against injustice and corruption, has been perhaps the only man Jayalalithaa admired unreservedly and sought counsel whenever she found herself in a difficult situation.

Like the time when the then chief minister M. Karunanidhi's intelligence chief visited her and cautioned her about a plan to harm her. He reportedly pleaded with her not to reveal his meeting to anyone as otherwise he would come to grief. Jayalalithaa was in a panic, alarmed at the warning from this 'well-meaning' cop and wanting to get the hell out of Tamil Nadu and its dirty politics, rather than face some goon with an acid bottle. She wanted to flee to her grape garden in Hyderabad. Cho told her not to be hasty and reasoned out that, being loyal to Karunanidhi, the policeman could be bluffing only to scare her away from being a thorn in his boss's flesh. She should remain in Chennai and fight it out, he reasoned.

But Jayalalithaa would rather play safe. Being a pretty star and one who led a pampered life, she did not want to take the cop's warning lightly. She packed bags and left for Hyderabad, returning only after Karunanidhi's government got dismissed by the Chandrashekhar regime on the charge of helping the LTTE. Suffice it to say here that Cho was a good friend of Chandrashekhar and the latter took the Tamil strategist's counsel seriously.

Cho was at the airport when Jayalalithaa returned from Hyderabad after Karunanidhi's dismissal but the lady almost looked through him. She was upset as some 'friends' told her Cho had become friends with Karunanidhi. The truth was that a friendly film producer had invited Cho to participate in a felicitation for Karunanidhi's son Stalin for his impressive performance as lead actor in a successful tele-serial called 'Kurinji Malar', and Cho agreed. "That producer was an old friend and I could not say 'no'; besides, why should I duck that function just because I opposed the politics of Stalin's father?" Cho had told me at that time, referring to how touchy Jayalalithaa could get when someone she considered close to her had chosen to 'flirt' with the enemy.

Studio friends recall that Cho had been such a close friend that Jayalalithaa considered him to be the only intellectual and educated costar on the sets. "If Cho sir was at the shoot, she would be talking to him. Otherwise, she would be busy with her script and once she is done with a take, she would pick up a book and withdraw to a corner", said a source.

Interestingly, while Cho and Jayalalithaa shared great affection and admiration for each other over long years, they were also uncompromising when things went wrong. Cho and his Thuglak magazine were the hardest critics of Karunanidhi and the DMK- which hugely helped Jayalalithaa with the middle-class and upper caste voters - yet both the editor and the magazine suffered at her hands earlier this year just because he had invited Pala Karupaiah, then a MLA in Jayalalithaa's AIADMK party, to the Thuglak annual conference (January 14) and the legislator lashed out at corruption in the state government. The attack infuriated the lady chief minister who stopping speaking to Cho and her government stopped advertisements to his Thuglak. Also, the magazine's reporters were shifted away from her sight in the seating arrangements inside the state legislature! And Cho refused to buckle to such pressures. Thus, sadly, before she breathed her last, the good friends couldn't even share a smile while lying on beds in the same hospital.

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