Jayalalithaa: Her life, politics, regime and after…

J Jayalalithaa, former chief minister of Tamil Nadu and general secretary of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), once in an interview to a TV channel categorically said that ‘We, in our party never mention anyone as heir apparent. Some will emerge with their credentials.’ It could be construed as philosophical, practical or pure arrogant statement.

The situation now prevailing in Tamil Nadu only shows that the party or its cadres are neither true to Jayalalithaa nor to her party. The majority of the elected candidates under the name of AIADMK seems to owe their position to VN Sasikala, the onetime servant, then friend, then adopted sister, an extra constitutional authority and then turned ‘Chinnamma’, (as Jayalalithaa had the sobriquet ‘Amma’), the party secretary and now a criminal who had been sentenced to jail in Disproportionate Assets case by the Supreme Court. 

Everything connected with Jayalalithaa was shrouded with mystery. She, on many occasions had mentioned that she entered film industry out of compulsion by her mother. In fact, her career from 1964 almost came to an end by 1977 after several flops from 1972 itself. Her mother Sandhya who compelled her to be an actor passed away in 1971 when she was just 23 years old. Had she been really keen on education, she could have easily moved from Chennai to even any foreign country of her choice to pursue her studies. But, she chose to stay back and continued her profession in films till films stopped coming to her.

Another tall claim by Jayalalithaa was that she was inducted into politics by her mentor MG Ramachandran though she was least interested in politics. However, let us assume that she took up the post of Propaganda Secretary of AIADMK and then Rajya Sabha member to show her gratitude to MGR as once again she had mentioned in an interview that ‘he was her man and everything to her’. But when MGR died in 1987, she was terribly insulted and sidelined by MGR’s kin and some major party functionaries and they wanted desperately to drive her away from politics. She could have gone back from politics and opted for a peaceful life. But, she fought back with amazing spirit and won. Her life in politics continued till she mysteriously fell sick on 22 September 2016 and declared dead due to sudden cardiac arrest on 5 Dec 2016 by the hospital after 75 long days of mystery. In between, after her first regime in 1991-1996, she was accused of amassing wealth disproportionate to her income (she drew a salary of Rs.1 per month according to her!) and the case was made to drag for several years and she was also jailed twice. Had she wanted she could have got out of politics even at that time. But, she didn’t.

Immediately after her death, her constant confidante for 33 years, VN Sasikala entered and claimed the position of the party leadership and got it also. She was about to take up the chief minister’s chair of Tamil Nadu, a twist took place. O Pannerselvam, her another supposedly trusted lieutenant came out in the open that it was Sasikala who pressurized him to resign and make way for her to become CM. Within a couple of days of this, the Supreme Court came out with the verdict on the long drawn case of DA on Jayalalithaa as A1 and Sasikala and her relatives as A2 to 4. In this land mark judgment Jayalalithaa and others found guilty of amassing wealth disproportionate to their income and sentenced them to 4 years of imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 100 crore for Jayalalithaa and Rs.10 crore for others. Sasikala who took the reign of the AIADMK on her own credentials continues to call the shots even after going to the prison in Bengaluru.

Jayalalithaa’s pursuance in films, her major role in politics, her hubris, her confrontation politics, her historically lavish wedding celebration of an abrupt foster son Sudhakaran, nephew of Sasikala, her sudden disowning of Sasikala’s family and again taking them back into her fold, the constant rumor about the enormous power wielded by Sasikala on Jayalalithaa, her sudden illness, the constantly changing medical statements about her health for nearly three long months, barring entry into even the Governor of the State to meet and speak to her, her sudden death….everything sounds strange and unbelievable under any logic. After her death, Sasikala and her supposedly estranged husband one Natarajan made statements to the effect that ‘THEY’ are the people responsible for Jayalalithaa’s entry and ascend in politics.

Do these show that Jayalalithaa, who has set a new historical record of a dead CM of a state sentenced for a ‘startling’ criminal offence with impunity by the Supreme Court of India, was all along living for ‘others interest’ or at others’ behest?

But, for those who are familiar with her speeches, behavior, or the way she dealt with many issues in politics and personal life, that is hard to believe and digest. No act of hers showed that she was not interested in things she did. She sent feelers to film makers to act after her film career came to an end; her desperate attempts to meet MGR after his return from US to rejoin politics; her bringing back of Sasikala into her fold once again after her ‘so-called’ disowning her for her personal and her family’s misdeeds. Everything lacks sincerity or truth.

Jayalalithaa’s regime was favored by the Tamil Nadu population for two reasons basically; she was the only alternative for (once again) a highly corrupt and family controlled Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam led by Mr. M Karunanidhi. She regaled the rural population with excess of freebies at every stage. She neither had any vision about the state or about the innumerable problems the state facing because of the ever increasing population, corruption by her coterie especially Sasikala and her family, absolute dearth of water, her ever confrontation posture with the central as well as the other neighboring states…the list will go endless.

With her mysterious death Jayalalithaa had finally thrown the Tamil Nadu administration into an imbroglio with the vertical split of AIADMK and her friend, philosopher and guide Sasikala in prison, who had created a proxy rule in the state with certain captive MLAs.

Tamil Nadu carries a bag of specialties in the Indian politics. It is the first state which opposed and keeps opposing Hindi; it is the state where the regional DMK shifted its loyalty to its central allies in no time from BJP to Congress. Rajiv Gandhi, the then PM was killed in a gruesome manner by a female suicide bomber in connection with the Srilankan problem in this state only. It is the ally who had done the India’s Major Scam 2G bringing down the image of the Congress. It is the state where the then CM and ally J Jayalalithaa didn’t give a consent letter for BJP rule and brought it down within a fortnight. Now it is the first state where a Woman Friday of the party leader not only claims the party but the also the CM’s chair. It is the only state where the CM is posthumously awarded sentence for her criminal act by the Supreme Court.

There may be many more twists and turns are bound to happen; one has no option but to wait and watch because India is the biggest democratic country!


More by :  G Swaminathan

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