In the passing away of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa, we have lost a worthy leader of modern India. What distinguished her from other regional leaders was her ability to focus on nationalism and regionalism with acumen and insight. She had a multidimensional view of the common man’s struggle for a place in the sun. Her welfare schemes were genuine and not done with an eye on the vote bank. She painstakingly managed over time to rerobe a quintessential Dravidian movement into one of inclusiveness and progress.
Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh
A strong, self-willed woman who never displayed emotions was a picture of poise, calm and sagacity which she displayed in abundance in the few interviews she gave to private TV channels. If one has to know the real Jayalalithaa, one has to watch her interview with Simi Garewal and the way she sings the song “ Aaja sanam madhur chandini mein hum ”, with Simi.
Though history may record that Jayalalithaa retained power through her various freebie schemes aimed at the poor, it cannot be denied that it was these measures that helped in ameliorating their living conditions to some extent. One feels sorry that she failed to take care of her health and fell victim to numerous medical complications.
Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu
Caste equations are likely to play a key role in politics in Tamil Nadu and there is every chance that the BJP will only be too keen to gain a foothold in the State. It is a fluid situation and we need to wait and watch.
It is difficult to imagine in which direction Tamil Nadu politics will go, post-Jayalalithaa. O. Pannerselvam may be the new Chief Minister but this development cannot fill the crater created by the uprooting of a giant tree. One hopes that Jayalalithaa’s foresight and legacy will hold the party together for quite some time to come.
What makes one respect Jayalalithaa is the sheer resoluteness with which she lived all through her life. She was a soul forced into torment because of the life others chose for her and she lived it with all its consequences. Benazir Bhutto, who was also a reluctant entrant into the limelight, said: “I did not choose this life, this life chose me.” This is true of Jayalalithaa too.
The decision by the Kerala government to declare three days of mourning and the adjournment of the State cabinet on Tuesday after observing silence are commendable gestures of solidarity. This will go a long way in cementing further the deep bonds between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The move by political leaders from Kerala to visit Jayalalithaa when she was in hospital, and later for the funeral, is another fine gesture.
The world has lost an able leader who rode like a colossus in the political arena for more than three decades. The extraordinary courage she showed in banning extremist elements who would otherwise have turned the State into a cauldron of hatred must be noted. In this one can include her decision to go after forest brigand Veerappan. Her ‘Amma Unavagam’ scheme is a boon to the poor.
There were two iron ladies in the political field, Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi. One can add a third name now — Jayalalithaa.
The first time I saw Jayalalithaa was in 1967, with actor Ravichandran, at Doddabetta in the Nilgiris during the production of the film “ Naan ”. Tamil Nadu has had the “dubious distinction” of having two film actors as Chief Ministers, thanks to its obsession with cinema. To us, they are not human beings but gods. Of course, they can never do anything wrong and so there cannot be any criticism against them. I am happy that there has not been any act of violence or arson in Tamil Nadu, which is probably a sign of change for the better. With Jayalalithaa’s demise, we have come to the end of an era. Let us hope for a new political order sans sycophancy.
Israel K. Mani,
Wellington Barracks, The Nilgiris
Amma has overcome many adversities in life and won the hearts of the downtrodden. Her life will remain an inspiration to many. She will certainly live in the hearts of millions.
Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh
The Tamil Nadu police deserve all praise and accolades for maintaining law and order in the most excellent manner in Chennai. The way in which they controlled the surging crowds all through the day when her body was lying in state, during the funeral procession and till after the burial was exemplary. That they achieved all this without giving room for any complaint speaks volumes of their excellent planning, patience and precise execution.
One of the most striking things has been the way in which the funeral went off very smoothly. The Tamil Nadu police deserve praise for their services. The AIADMK cadres were also dignified in their conduct.
Baby Harline J.,
Palayamkottai, Tamil Nadu
One needs to look at her legacy objectively. Tamil Nadu is a shattered State as the freebies have burnt a hole in its pocket. There are no plans whatsoever to solve the recurrent water crisis while numerous industrial projects are in a state of limbo. During her rule, no file moved without her involvement and it has become a political wasteland. She piled worthless freebies on the poorest of the poor. On top of all this she monopolised the liquor trade which was her cash cow. The laptop scheme was worthless as there was no free Wi-Fi while the TVs and fans hardly worked as their quality was so poor. The two schemes which she showcased — mineral water for Rs.10 and the Amma canteen — are a financial drain. Finally, she never groomed anyone to take over the party. She was the party and the party was her. Now, there is an uneasy calm before the storm.