I come from Northeast and even though I have been one of the close followers of Politics, I hardly knew anything about Tamil Nadu politics till I came to south India for the first time in 2005 for my engineering. The first time I was acquainted to TN politics and its biggest influence in the form of J Jayalalitha was by my Tambrahm Roommate from Chennai. Her passionate stories about the fights and controversies of Jayalalitha, her political journey and her rational defense as a follower, naturally made me start following TN politics very closely. My knowledge expanded from a limited edition of infamous asset case after the raid in her Poes garden residence in 1997 to the extent that I silently started idolizing this woman leader. I fondly love to describe her as arrogant, non-compromising, charismatic, extremely bold, true fighter, well read, intelligent and one of the most successful Politicians and Leaders.
She had her own share of controversies, ranging from personal to professional. It started when she left her successful acting career to enter politics under the guidance of her mentor, MGR. People speculated that MGR showed and eventually carved her path as a politician. Glamorously decked in white saree, adamant Jayalalitha sat near her mentor’s head for 2 days during his demise. Already an outsider as a Brahmin in an influential Dravidian party, she was sidelined by MGRs family after his demise. Nevertheless, she boldly declared herself his heir and the party was split into two. Nobody could ignore the fact that, apart from being a glamorous actor and a woman, she was fearless, intelligent, and fluent in many languages, extremely well read with around 10000 books in her private library and a true blue leader. No wonder, the party united once again after 4 years of split under her leadership.
She then got into the controversy of misappropriate asset case. The fact that she was one of the highest paid actors of her time and she had decided to withdraw Re. 1 salary as CM citing she already had enough income from various sources was completely sidelined by the media during this controversy. However, even if this corruption case was something for which she was really to be convicted of or could have been left for the speculators to speculate as an effort from her own aides to led her astray, no one can ignore the fact that, in spite of being unmarried glamorous woman in a male dominated political arena, she is the one who stood firmly, insurmountable to the rowdy forces of DMK. In fact no one else, even men couldn’t have been a fierce opposition to the DMK. The amount of work she did for TN is tremendous. Serving subsidized foods to the poor to almost eliminating the rowdy rule in TN. There are instances where civil servants claim that during her rule, it is the most peaceful environment for them and they can independently and diligently perform their duties without hindrance from the state government. There are instances where she would take over the police department to keep close tap on the rowdy deeds that caused excessive turmoil in TN which continued from DMK rule.
There is also an infamous instance when she was literally disrobed in 1989 assembly when she opposed Karunanidhi’s budget presentation. And the rest is history how the brand “Amma” become so popular and prominent. And how she managed to get numerous followers both men and women queuing up to prostate themselves at her feet. There are also blind insane followers who are even ready to immolate themselves or cut their fingers off to show their love and respect for her.
As a woman, I am so proud today that J Jayalalitha has earned her respect not as a wife of someone or Amma of someone but Amma of such a humongous crowd. I am happy that December 6 is declared as public holiday under the negotiable instruments Act as a mark of respect to this wonder woman, a leader in true sense. Today, she is being hailed for being a powerful leader, adamant fighter with tremendous perseverance and an ultimate achiever against all odds. I am sure it will take ages for anyone, especially a woman to fit in her shoes especially in a state like Tamil Nadu. Politics of TN is once again prone to chaos and no one can easily fill her void whatsoever. RIP Amma.
First published here