An unprecedented number of commoners, political leaders, movie stars and businessmen have been paying their last respects to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK General Secretary J. Jayalalithaa, who passed away on Monday following a cardiac arrest.
The enigmatic leader had been admitted to Apollo Hospitals in Chennai since September 22 this year. Her condition had normalised over the last few days, but deteriorated again on Sunday night. She died at the hospital around 11:30 pm on Monday.
Jayalalithaa’s body was taken to her residence at Poes Garden on Tuesday.
After performance of the last ceremonial rites as per tradition, her tricolour draped body was shifted to Rajaji Hall here for people to pay their last respects to the departed leader.
Jayalalithaa’s confidant Sasikala Natarajan was standing near her body. AIADMK MLAs and MPs as well as other party officials were also gathered at Rajaji Hall.
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting M. Venkaiah Naidu, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, state Congress party President S. Thirunavukarasar, movie star Prabhu, Bharatiya Janata Party leader H. Raja and others paid homage to Jayalalithaa.
“Jayalalithaa is very bold, intelligent and shrewd — three important qualities for a politician. It was she who campaigned throughout the state during the 1984 assembly elections when MGR (AIADMK founder M.G. Ramachandran) was hospitalised. She was instrumental for the party’s victory in that elections,” Thirunavukarasar told news agency IANS.
“She was charismatic and able to attract and convince people and secure votes. People saw her as MGR’s political heir. She was an able administrator and knew what is what. Her strength was her boldness,” he added.
Born on February 24, 1948, Jayalalithaa appeared in over 100 films between 1961-80. She entered politics in the footsteps of her co-star and mentor M G Ramachandran.
Jayalalithaa, or ‘Amma’ as she was popularly referred to, led AIADMK in 1984 Lok Sabha and Tamil Nadu assembly elections – winning the Assembly polls for the party.
She led the party to victory in 1991 and went on the become the youngest chief minister in the country. She ruled for six terms and dominated the state’s political arena for nearly three decades.
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