Jayalalithaa - 1948-2016

On verge of quitting politics, she bounced back stronger

Among the most traumatic periods for Jayalalithaa was one before she first went to jail in December 1996.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu Archives

Among the most traumatic periods for Jayalalithaa was one before she first went to jail in December 1996. From the time she lost power in May that year, cases were filed against her one after the other, and she had a foreboding that she would be arrested sooner or later. This period, she would later recall, was even more depressing than her actual stay behind bars. In prison, she steeled herself and became tougher mentally.

She had thought of quitting politics if it meant that she would be free of cases. Indeed, she sent feelers on this through S. Thirunavukkarasu, who was then in the AIADMK, to G.K. Moopanar, leader of the Tamil Maanila Congress and a close ally of DMK president M. Karunanidhi. But nothing came of the whole exercise.

At a closed-door party general council meeting,  Jayalalithaa later said Mr. Karunanidhi was no Chanakya in politics; if he were one, he would have ensured that she quit politics, and not have filed more and more cases against her.

But after she spent close to a month in jail, she was a changed woman, full of fighting spirit. She knew she had seen the worst. The subsequent stay in jail, following her conviction in the disproportionate assets case by a Bengaluru court in 2014, was nowhere near as traumatic as her first experience in prison.

Earlier too, in March 1989, it was the DMK’s miscalculation that gave her a new lease of political life. A raid conducted by the police at the residence of M. Natarajan, the husband of Sasikala, to secure a letter — allegedly written by Jayalalithaa informing the Speaker that she was resigning her Assembly membership —  boomeranged on the DMK. She raised the issue in the Assembly, and this led to an attack on her. A photograph of Jayalalithaa with her dishevelled hair leaving the Assembly won her much sympathy.


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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 4:33:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/On-verge-of-quitting-politics-she-bounced-back-stronger/article16761190.ece1

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