Chennai: Former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was remembered on her second death anniversary Wednesday with Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Pannnerselvam leading their AIADMK members in paying tributes to her. The ruling party took a pledge to secure a ‘grand victory’ in the forthcoming by-polls to 20 Assembly segments and next year’s Lok Sabha elections and dedicate it to the late leader.
The Madras High Court had recently upheld the disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs by Speaker P Dhanapal for revolting against CM Palaniswami in August 2017, prompting by-polls in these constituencies. The Tiruvarur and Thirupparankundram seats had fallen vacant following the death of their MLAs, DMK chief M Karunanidhi and A K Bose (AIADMK), respectively.
Clad in black shirts, AIADMK coordinator OPS and joint-coordinator EPS led a silent march in the morning along with party functionaries and cadres from Anna Salai to Marina beach, where Jayalalithaa was laid to rest. Most of the marchers wore black reflecting their sorrow at losing their charismatic leader.
The leaders and others appeared emotional as they offered flowers at the memorial of their ‘Amma’. Thereafter, OPS administered the pledge to the party followers in the name of ‘Amma’, who he reminded had always stated that she lived “for the people” and was the “creation of the people” — ‘makkalukkaga naan, makkalaal naan’.
Heaping praise on the departed leader, the party pledge also recalled the various electoral victories achieved by Amma to make the AIADMK the ‘third largest’ in the Lok Sabha (37 MPs), after the ruling BJP and Opposition Congress.
"In one election after another, the AIADMK reaped victories and the credit goes only to Amma. We will replicate her hard work and walk the path laid down by her in the forthcoming Assembly by-polls and the Lok Sabha elections. The party will secure grand victory in these and dedicate them to Amma," the party leaders pledged.
The AIADMK pledge also hailed Amma's various pro-people measures, including the free laptops scheme for students. The party vowed to stick to Jayalalithaa's ideology and be a 'protector' of Tamil people, and help in upholding her fame. The leaders and party workers took a pledge to remain united, disciplined and dignified to keep the party intact and take it forward. Later, they observed a two-minute silence to show respect for Amma.
Rival AMMK leader TTV Dhinakaran also took out a silent procession to the Jaya memorial with his close aides and supporters.
In the 2011 Assembly polls, the Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK had secured a massive win, trumping then incumbent DMK and reducing it to just 23 MLAs. The party had lost every election since then, including the local body polls. It won 37 of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in 2014 and went on to set a new record in three decades of an incumbent retaining power, when it won the 2016 state polls. The AIADMK, however, lost the 2017 RK Nagar by-poll to TTV amid serious allegations of large-scale bribing of voters - that election was necessitated due to the death of its MLA, Jayalalithaa on December 5, 2016.
Jayalalithaa was rushed in ambulance to the Apollo Hospital on September 22 (2016) with complaints of fever and dehydration and underwent medical treatment for about 75 days before her demise. Her death had triggered a split in the AIADMK in February 2017 when then Chief Minister OPS revolted against Jayalalithaa's close aide V K Sasikala, now serving a jail term in Bengaluru in connection with the Disproportionate Assets case in which Jayalalithaa was the prime accused. OPS had then alleged that he was being pressured to make way for Sasikala, called 'Chinnamma' in the party circles.
Cracking the whip, Sasikala brought in EPS as the CM apart from anointing nephew TTV Dhinakaran as the party's deputy general secretary. EPS too revolted against the Mannargudi clan and merged his AIADMK faction with that of OPS on August 21. The party's general council in September last year sacked Sasikala from the position of general secretary and expelled her from the AIADMK. TTV then launched the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam after holding consultations with aunt Sasikala in jail....