No wait too long, no day too hot

Unmindful of the sweltering heat, hundreds of AIADMK cadre thronged Poes Garden and Anna Salai from early morning to have a glimpse of party supremo Jayalalithaa who was making her public appearance after seven months.

May 23, 2015 08:25 am | Updated November 28, 2021 07:39 am IST - Chennai

AIADMK ministers and senior leaders greet Ms. Jayalalithaa.

AIADMK ministers and senior leaders greet Ms. Jayalalithaa.

It was a long awaited road show. The sweltering Friday did not deter thousands of AIADMK partymen from thronging the roads from the morning to get a glimpse of their leader Jayalalithaa making her first appearance after seven long months.

The punishing heat must have sent everyone scurrying to find a shade, but nothing could stop the AIADMK cadres from dancing in a joyfully-awkward way to the rhythmic drum beats throughout the morning. 

Hundreds were on the roads leading to Poes Garden and along Anna Salai from as early as 8 a.m., a good six hours before Jayalalithaa was scheduled to step out of her residence.  “We can’t accept OPS as Chief Minister,” said C. Loganayaki from Royapuram, who works in Amma Canteen, and delighted to have Ms. Jayalalithaa back as Chief Minister.

Question them about their undying loyalty, S. Barathi, her co-worker, says: “I lost my husband and was suffering. I got the job only because of Amma. We will be faithful to her.” She won’t tell you it was the party’s local leader who got her the job. Insist, she asks you: “Did anyone help me when I was starving?”

Tamil Selvi (55) and Muniyamma (70), both from Chepauk, waited for almost six-and-a-half hours on the footpath on Binny Road, to get a glimpse of Ms. Jayalalithaa – that lasted all of 10 seconds – as she drove past, nodding to her delirious cadres with folded hands.

After the conviction in the disproportionate assets case last September, which cast doubts over Ms. Jayalalithaa’s political future in Tamil Nadu politics, the AIADMK cadres have been desperately waiting for this day when their leader would once again stake a claim to the Chief Minister’s chair at Fort St. George.

Hundreds of cadres refused to leave that square-foot of land underneath their feet, which they had occupied to get that perfect vantage point from which to see their leader. Why would anyone want to go through such an ordeal knowing very well that their leader might not even see them? 

“We want to see her. It has been a long time. We have been loyalists since MGR's time and we will continue to be so,” said Tamil Selvi. B. Govindarajan and Anandakumar, both in their 30s, waited from 9.30 a.m. near MGR statue on Anna Salai. “With Amma’s return, there is always hope. It is not just the partymen who benefit. People also benefit,” said Govindarajan.

At the Spencer’s Plaza junction, A. Roopkumar was dancing to the old MGR-Jayalalithaa duets along with a woman cadre. He is one of those who had actually met the party supremo way back in the late 1980s. “I was a guard when she undertook a fast then. After that she briefly interacted with me during one of her campaigns,” he says cherishing those moments even now. Ask if it is of any help to his family, he quips: “We are in public service. Like Amma.”

The party cadres were seen all along one side of the Anna Salai as Ms. Jayalalithaa went about paying floral tributes to the statues of Periyar, the father of Dravidian movement, M.G. Ramachandran, her political mentor and founder of AIADMK, and C.N. Annadurai, DMK founder

On the other side of the arterial road, traffic was inching along like a snail, coming to a standstill at times between 2 and 3 p.m. While the traffic snarl might have brought back memories from the early 1990s to some in the city, the AIADMK cadre were single minded in their purpose - getting a glimpse of their Amma.

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