oppn parties RIP Jayalalitha: Tamil Nadu Loses Its Amma

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RIP Jayalalitha: Tamil Nadu Loses Its Amma

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Jayalalitha is no more. The charismatic Tamil Nadu chief minister breathed her last near midnight on December 5 at the Apollo Hospitals in Chennai, failing to recover from the massive heart attack she suffered a couple of days back.

The AIADMK moved fast to appoint O Panneerselvam as the chief minister in her place. The party acted with maturity to avoid an ugly situation that could have arisen if a vacuum remained. There were rumours of an impending split in the party as there were believed to be too many claimants for the CM’s chair.

But in the end, her trusted lieutenant – the person she had twice appointed in her place, once when she was arrested on corruption charges and again when she was ill – garnered enough support (whispers are doing the round that Jaya’s aide Sasikala played a big role in his elevation) within the party to crush any chances of a rebellion. A split has been judiciously averted for now.

Although Jayalalitha was more populist than practical, she leaves behind a rich legacy of welfare schemes for the poor and women. Though these policies are a drain on the state exchequer, this is the way most regional satraps work in India. The very fact that people call her Amma and are ready to immolate themselves to support her proves that she was a very popular leader.

The people of Tamil Nadu would wish that the party and O Pannerselvam carry forward her legacy for the rest of the term. After that, it remains to be seen whether the people supported AIADMK for its policies or just for the charisma of Jayalalitha. The next state elections in Tamil Nadu would be keenly fought.