Nation Politics 05 Dec 2017 Mourning Jayalalitha ...

Mourning Jayalalithaa

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | E T B SIVAPRIYAN
Published Dec 5, 2017, 6:02 am IST
Updated Dec 5, 2017, 6:07 am IST
Prime Minister Modi and Jayalalithaa shared special relationship of mutual admiration, respect.
Jayalalithaa
 Jayalalithaa

Chennai: On this first anniversary of J Jayalalithaa's death, there are many reasons to grieve than just her personal loss to her family, party and the people who had overwhelmingly voted for her second consecutive term that lasted barely six months. 

First, her legacy as an Iron Butterfly who could take on the toughest political adversary with scary confidence — and that included the Prime Minister of the day — and a Queen Bee who ran her fiefdom at the Fort St.George and the AIADMK headquarters with a stranglehold that brooked no challenge of even the mildest kind, lay in tatters. 

 

Until her death this day last year at the Apollo Hospital, no Minister or AIADMK functionary — big or small, senior or junior — would even raise his / her voice over the whispering decibels even while discussing an inane theme like the previous day's weather. But things changed dramatically after her demise as lieutenants quickly changed into the tunics of generals and multiple islands of authority emerged where just the other day, there was just one Empress holding sway over one tightly held kingdom.

When she lived, and ruled, even senior leaders from the neighbouring states and the Centre would rue in private conversations with media persons that they not just admired Jayalalithaa's competence in governance but were also mighty jealous of her control over the party and the public mood. Even her mentor MGR had ministers and party functionaries, such as RM Veerappan and S D Somasundaram, questioning him on issues personal and political, but none dared to raise a finger against Amma. 

 

So much so, even after her death and to this day, the ministers and party members deem it necessary to flaunt her photograph in their transparent shirt pockets - like the deep sea diver carrying the O2 cylinder in the survival kit. It's another matter that the picture in pockets could do little in holding them together after Amma's death, as the AIADMK splintered into multiple factions and midget groups. If all this chaos did not add up to the collapse of the government and the party, the BJP government at the Centre must take the most credit. 

 

It is common knowledge that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Jayalalithaa shared a special relationship, of mutual admiration and respect, and the former tried his best to protect her — particularly when her health came under severe stress — and when she died, might have decided it's his duty to lend support for her government and the party. In the process, DMK's longtime prince-in-waiting MK Stalin found the slip between the cup and the lip terribly annoying. 

The Supreme Court verdict confirming the conviction of Judge Cunha in the Disproportionate Assets case has posthumously guillotined Amma's image while sending her controversial companion to the Parappana Agrahara jail. Even the illiterate engaging in teashop political discourses argued that had Jayalalithaa been alive, she too would have been 'driven' to Bengaluru. 

 

But then, all this is to recap in a nutshell the many flaws in the J-era. The bitterness over opportunities lost in the state, known for its high degree of education and enterprise over decades, might linger on for long among those who are intelligent enough and have been privy to inside information. They have only now begun to openly talk about investors having been driven away by demands of huge bribes for even an appointment with CM. 

The great things missed post-J is her able handling of the state's administration, particularly at times of crisis. Fishermen leaders wailing about the delayed response from the administration to Cyclone Ockhi disaster are recalling, repeatedly, the way Amma had responded at lightning speed to the tsunami of 2004 by setting up high-level relief/rehab mechanism under her direct supervision. 

 

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