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There is chance of Sasikala becoming CM: Subramanian Swamy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sasikala Natarajan becoming the AIADMK general secretary was the party’s internal matter and she could also become the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said on Saturday. “It is purely an internal matter of the party. There is also a chance of her becoming the chief minister,” he told reporters here when asked about Sasikala’s appointment to the top post in AIADMK. On the criticism that Sasikala lacked the political ability for such a big post, Swamy shot back saying what capability did Sonia or Rahul Gandhi have when they took charge of the Congress. Swamy, who spent a week at an ayurveda centre here, said the verdict in the disproportionate assets case against late chief minister J Jayalalithaa and Sasikala was expected to be delivered by the Supreme Court next month.The case against Jayalalithaa and three others for allegedly amassing disproportionate wealth to the tune of Rs 66.65 crore during 1991-96 was filed on Swamy’s complaint. The BJP leader said with the changing political scenario in the state, the Tamil Nadu unit of the party required a new leadership as also new executive and general council members, adding that the party’s January 6-7 national executive meet could take a decision in this regard. Later, talking to reporters at the Chennai airport, Swamy said mediapersons did not ask questions when Sonia Gandhi took over as the Congress president.On demonetisation, he said the intention behind it was good and welcomed initiatives such as the BHIM app which he said will be accepted by the people. Swamy expressed confidence that the Supreme Court will give its nod to ‘jallikattu’ (a bull-taming sport) with some riders and the order would be delivered ahead of the coming Pongal festival.He blamed some “foreign-funded NGOs” for creating an alleged prejudice against the traditional sport and added that he too had argued in the apex court for allowing ‘jallikattu’ by putting forth “strong grounds”.To supervise the safe conduct of the event, a committee may be asked to monitor the sport, he said.

I carry Amma in my soul, says Sasikala after taking reigns of AIADMK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pledging to take forward the legacy of Jayalalithaa, AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala on Saturday asserted that none other than party founder MG Ramachandran, Dravidian ideologue C N Annadurai and ‘Amma’ will be given prominence in the party.In her first formal address to functionaries after formally taking charge as party chief here, she said the AIADMK will continue to be run in the same way as during the time of Amma when it was administered with a level of “discipline as seen in the Army”.It will continue to follow in the footsteps of these great leaders who looked beyond caste and religion, she said. Her assertion comes against the backdrop of some murmur of protests against her taking over the post.Heaping encomiums on Jayalalithaa, she said, “let us follow like Vedas our Amma’s political lessons and her footsteps,” adding “this movement (AIADMK) which was shaped up by Amma is a people’s movement, this is people’s government, our journey will be in the path laid by Amma.” She said the “yardstick” followed by Jayalalithaa for elevation of cadres in the party organisation will continue to be the same and “we will not diverge even an iota from it.” Hailing Jayalalithaa for her courage, she said the late leader had stormed the male bastion of politics that has given confidence to women. “Today as a woman, if I have come forward to lead the party, a very important reason for it is the faith that crores of brothers and sisters will support me.” She said “no one can fill her (Jayalalithaa) vacuum even in another thousand years.””I carry Amma in my soul,” she said adding “we have assembled here to guard the confidence of Amma that it will be the AIADMK which will rule the State even for 100 more years …she was everything for me and for us all.” Thanking party leaders for unanimously naming her as party general secretary, Sasikala said she humbly accepted it out of a sense of duty. For the first time she publicly spoke on the death of Jayalalithaa amid demands for a probe by Opposition DMK.Sasikala said she had firmly believed that the former AIADMK chief would recover. “Although Amma’s health improved that facilitated her shift from Critical Care Unit to a private room, she had unfortunately passed away.”It was not thought of even in my dream and it was like a thunderbolt falling on one’s head(when she died)”, Sasikala said, adding her only wish had been Jayalalithaa’s well-being.

Sasikala Natarajan to formally take charge of AIADMK today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>VK Sasikala Natarajan, 54, a close aide of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, will on Saturday formally take charge as general secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) at the party’s headquarters in Chennai.AIADMK party members had in a unanimous resolution adopted at the party’s general council meeting earlier this week, appointed Sasikala to the post. The AIADMK in its general body meeting passed a resolution to work under the leadership of Sasikala.The resolution was accepted by Sasikala, the confirmation of which was posted on the party’s Twitter handle. “AIADMK adopts resolution to work under the leadership of Chinnamma,” it read.After Jayalalithaa died, the party had announced that Natarajan would replace her as the chief of her party even though she is not technically qualified. The general secretary has to have completed five years as an active member.

‘Chinnamma’ Sasikala to formally take over as AIADMK chief on Saturday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>VK Sasikala, who was appointed to the top post in the AIADMK on Thursday, will formally take charge as its general secretary here on Saturday, the party has said.The AIADMK headquarters at Royapettah here is being spruced up for the occasion with a dais being set up near the MGR statue to facilitate Sasikala to pay tributes to the party founder before taking charge.In keeping with the Dravidian political ethos of paying tributes at memorials of leaders before key events, Sasikala placed a wreath and paid floral tributes to Jayalalithaa at her burial site in the MGR Memorial at Marina beach this evening.She also laid wreaths and paid floral tributes at the memorials of MG Ramachandran and Dravidian ideologue and former Tamil Nadu chief minister CN Annadurai.Amid chants of “compassionate mother Chinnamma” by her partymen, Sasikala showered flower petals on Jayalalithaa’s burial site.With moist eyes, she placed a copy of the party resolution appointing her as the AIADMK general secretary at the burial site.After silently praying for a while, she went around the site during which she paused and touched it twice as a mark of respect.On her arrival at the MGR Memorial, Sasikala was received by AIADMK presidium chairman E Madusudanan, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker and senior party leader M Thambidurai and state ministers, including Dindigul C Srinivasan and Edappadi K Palanisami.They accompanied her as she paid her respects to the late leaders.Party MPs, MLAs former ministers and legislators were also present on the occasion even as a large number of AIADMK cadre thronged the place.Earlier, former Puducherry chief minister and chief of the All India NR Congress (AINRC) N Rangaswamy met Sasikala at her Poes Garden residence and congratulated her on being appointed as the AIADMK chief.

DMK seeks probe by sitting high court judge into Jayalalithaa’s death

Chennai: A day after a Madras High Court judge expressed doubts over the circumstances leading to the demise of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, DMK on Friday sought a comprehensive probe by a sitting HC judge into the death.

Former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa. AFP

Former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa. AFP

“A comprehensive probe must be done by a sitting judge of the High Court and people should be told the truth,” DMK Treasurer MK Stalin said.

Against the backdrop of the court raising questions, he said it was imperative for the government to come out comprehensively on the medical treatment provided to the former AIADMK chief.

In a statement in Chennai, he said complete medical bulletins, video footage and photos of her getting treatment at the hospital should be released.

Citing Justice Vaidyanathan’s observation on Thursday that he may consider ordering exhumation of the body of the departed leader, he said, “it is imperative for the government to release comprehensive information.”

Stalin, who had earlier sought a white paper on the treatment given to Jayalalithaa, said there was no statement from the government ever since she was admitted to the hospital on 22 September.

He said the Centre and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had a duty to answer questions related to the treatment provided for the late leader. Doctors from Delhi’s AIIMS too had treated her, he said.

If the ruling regime had explained the “true (health) status” of Jayalalithaa and released pictures of her getting treatment, the issue could not have reached the doorsteps of court, he said.

He recalled a statement of his party chief Karunanidhi seeking release of pictures of Jayalalithaa being treated and said, “had the ruling side not viewed it from the prism of politics, the issue would not have come to such a pass”.

Only such activities has cast a “cloud, giving room for suspicion,” among the people, he said, adding it was the right of the people to know about the treatment given to her and the circumstances leading to her death.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 14:52 IST

Sasikala – From video library owner to new AIADMK chief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Always seen as a shadow of Jayalalithaa and never heard in public, V K Sasikala on Thursday emerged as her political heir to lead AIADMK which has had hugely charismatic figures at its helm in all its 45 years.Blamed once for Jayalalithaa’s disastrous election loss in 1996, the 60-year-old, who was a video library owner before getting close to the late leader, was always considered having a clout in the running of the party.Having accompanied Jayalalithaa to prison when arrested in a disproportionate assets case, Sasikala’s roller-coaster career saw her being expelled for anti-party activities only to be restored in a few months five years ago.
ALSO READ Sasikala likely to be elected as AIADMK General Secretary todayJayalalithaa’s demise on December 5 was seen as a personal loss for Sasikala who was a permanent resident of Jayalalithaa’s house Veda Nilayam in Poes Garden, even choosing to stay away from her husband. She continued to be by Jayalalithaa’s side when she was hospitalised on September 22 that stoked some controversies, including that access to the ailing leader was not being allowed even to her kin.Sasikala belongs to the dominant Thevar community which also is said to have played a major role in O Panneerselvam, who is also from the same community, becoming the stop-gap Chief Minister whenever Jayalalithaa had to step down and even after her death.An aspiring small-time entrepreneur offering video coverage services and allied products like video cassettes in the early 1980s, she got acquainted with Jayalalithaa in 1982 along with her husband M Natarajan through the then IAS officer VS Chandraleka.When Jayalalithaa was organising a party conference in Cuddalore in 1982 – a new entrant to AIADMK then, it was Sasikala who had got the event video-graphed. Similarly, she had got covered several of the party functions of Jayalalithaa which was the beginning of their association. Sasikala or ‘Chinnamma’ as she was later called remained a wall of support for Jayalalithaa through thick and thin over the next three decades.In her much televised 1999 interview Rendezvous with Simi Garewal, Jayalalithaa had said Sasikala was targeted much because of her association with her. She had even praised Sasikala as a “sister” who fulfilled the role of her late mother by taking care of her. This has been quoted by supporters of Sasikala to claim legitimacy to her ascending the top party post.As early as 1989, through 1990 and 1991, many relatives of Sasikala began actively participating in AIADMK activities and several of them were seen supporting Jayalalithaa in protests organised by AIADMK then.Sasikala caught the attention of media only after Jayalalithaa became Chief Minister for the first time in 1991.It was only in 1995, when Jayalalithaa declared Sasikala’s nephew VN Sudhakaran as her foster son and got his infamously extravagant wedding conducted did the clout that Sasikala enjoyed with the party chief come to the fore.Having graduated as Jayalalithaa’s trusted aide, Sasikala was also reportedly taking part in party affairs. She was jailed along with Jayalalithaa in the alleged colour TV scam in 1996. The relationship between the two also came in for criticism from political opponents due to Sasikala’s kin allegedly having a say in party affairs.Sudhakaran, whom Jayalalithaa had declared as her foster son, was later disowned by her and Sasikala’s husband and a host of other relatives also fell out of favour.In early 1980s, Sasikala’s husband Natarjan was a government PRO in Cuddalore with strong moorings in Dravidian ideology.After the rout of AIADMK in 1996, Jayalalithaa announced that she was severing ties with Sasikala and later in 2011 she was expelled along with her husband Natarajan and 12 other relatives. However, on both occasions they patched up and Sasikala resumed living in Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence after assuring the AIADMK chief that she would keep away from her relatives.Their relationship, which saw several ups and downs, has culminated in Sasikala taking over the mantle of AIADMK general secretary to continue the political legacy of Jayalalithaa and MGR. ​

Madras High Court judge raises doubts on Jayalalithaa’s death, wants health records made public

There couldn’t have been a better timing for the Madras High Court to raise questions on the mysterious conditions under which former Tamil Nadu chief minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam head, J Jayalalithaa passed away earlier this month.

A file image of new AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala with J Jayalalithaa's body. PTI

A file image of new AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala with J Jayalalithaa’s body. PTI

On the day the AIADMK appointed Jayalalithaa’s aide VK Sasikala as the next general secretary of the party, a post held by Jayalalithaa before her death, the high court observed that there are many unanswered questions surrounding her death and that the details of it should be made public.

Expressing doubts over the circumstances leading to death of former Tamil Nadu chief minister, a Madras High Court judge indicated that he may order exhumation of the body after a plea before the court sought a probe by an inquiry commission or a fact-finding committee.

According to ANI, Justice Vaidyalingam, who was heading a two-judge vacation bench, pointed at the doubts raised by the media and said that the mysterious conditions under which she died should be probed.

His observations came when the bench, also comprising Justice V Parthiban, was hearing the PIL filed by an AIADMK worker PA Joseph seeking an inquiry commission or a fact-finding committee to probe the circumstances leading to the death of Jayalalithaa.

“After the demise, everybody has a right to question. I personally have a doubt,” Justice Vaidyalingam remarked adding, “”One day it was told that she is walking, another day you said that she will come out and suddenly what happened. Even with regard to the health of late  Chief Minister MGR, video was released,” Justice Vaidyanathan said.

When a special mention was made before the bench by senior counsel KM Vijayan who argued on the plea, Advocate General Muthukumaraswamy said there is no mystery in the death.
Justice Vaidyanathan asked the AG, “What is that you say. Right to live is a Fundamental Right. Public should know what has happened.” “Even relations were not allowed to see and they are also
not before the court now. I personally find in case if I have doubt I may order exhumation of the body of deceased and you have not told anything when she was alive,” the judge said.

Turning to counsel J Madanagopala Rao, who appeared on behalf of Union Government, the Judge said: “You went there. You have not reported anything. You know everything. But not reported anything for the reasons best known to you. You kept quiet.” The bench said, “We also saw in newspapers that the chief minister was recovering, and that she was eating, signing papers and even conducting meetings. And then suddenly she was dead.”

“At least after her death now, the truth should be revealed,” the bench added.

The bench then recorded the acceptance of notice by counsel for Union Government on behalf of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministries of Home, Law and Parliamentary Affairs and CBI and posted the matter for further hearing to 9 January.

According to CNN-News18, the high court judge also asked why her body was buried and not exhumed. The bench, it said, has issued a notice to the prime minister, Central Bureau of Investigation and the Apollo Hospital, where Jayalalithaa was being treated regarding the same.

The PIL had sought a commission comprising retired Supreme Court judges to look into “questionable incidents”, including Jayalalithaa’s sudden hospitalisation, reported recovery and the cardiac arrest resulting in her death on 5 December.

The PIL listed the sequence of events since Jayalalithaa’s admission to Apollo Hospitals here on 22 September and claimed that the “secrecy” preceding her death gave rise to “grave doubts” in the minds of the people.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 12:23 IST

Suspended MP Sasikala Pushpa has no right to enter party office: AIADMK

Wed, 28 Dec 2016-06:47pm , New Delhi , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on Wednesday said that suspended MP Sasikala Pushpa is not a member of their party and has no right to enter its office.”She (Sasikala Pushpa) is no more in AIADMK. What right does she have to come to the party office?” said AIADMK spokesperson CR Saraswathi.Earlier in the day, Pushpa’s lawyer was attacked by party cadre.The incident took place when four lawyers of Pushpa’s team had gone to the AIADMK headquarters to submit a letter.Pushpa who filed a petition in Supreme Court, demanding a probe into the death of J Jayalalithaa, had earlier said that A proper inquiry should be done as the people of the state want to know the actual reason behind the death of the former Tamil Nadu chief minister.
ALSO READ Watch: Suspended AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa’s lawyer attacked outside party officePushpa filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court earlier on Sunday, urging it to order for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the death.

Watch: Suspended AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa’s lawyer attacked outside party office

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Suspended AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa’s lawyer was attacked outside the party office in Chennai on Wednesday afternoon.According to initial reports, the attack took place when four lawyers from Pushpa’s team had gone to AIADMK headquarters to submit a letterOn December 18, Pushpa had moved Supreme Court seeking a CBI probe or a judicial investigation by an apex court judge into the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.In her petition, Pushpa alleged that Jayalalithaa’s death was “suspicious” as her actual medical condition was not disclosed, no one was allowed to visit her, her funeral photographs showed embalming marks and everything, from her hospitalisation to her death, “was kept under wraps”. Meanwhile, though the Madras High Court rejected Pushpa’s bail plea, the Supreme Court gave her protection from arrest and on September 26, directed her to join the police investigation.A case was recently registered against Pushpa and some of her family members for alleged sexual harassment of their maids in 2001. The domestic servants, who reportedly worked at Pushpa’s house in Tamil Nadu, had filed a police complaint alleging that they were tortured.

Ex-TN chief secy Rao slams Modi govt for I-T raids, claims ‘political vendetta’

Days after the Income Tax Department raided the house of the former chief secretary of Tamil Nadu P Rama Mohana Rao, he addressed the media on Tuesday and raised several questions about the “unconstitutional” raids. Speaking to the media, Rao, who was removed from the post of the chief secretary on 23 December, said that he still holds the post and authorities have no evidence against him.

“After 32 years of service, if this is the condition of a chief secretary, how can CRPF enter my house? Why did they not transfer me? This is political vendetta. I was under house arrest for over 26 hours. They (Centre) have no respect for the state government,” Rao said.

Rao thanked West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for “supporting my cause” and also alleged that his life was in danger. “They did not have any search warrant against me. The search warrant had name of my son. They have found nothing — no incriminating documents were found during the raids,” Rao said. Pointing towards a room that was alleged to be a secret chamber by the income tax authorities, Rao said that it was the store room. “What secret chamber?” he asked.

Alleging interference from the BJP-led Centre, Rao also said that the Central government has no business raiding the house of a chief secretary of a state. “Where is the state government? What role or business does Government of India and CRPF have to enter a chief secretary’s chambers? Did they get the chief minister’s permission? Isn’t this a unconstitutional assault? Where’s the state govt? On whose permission did CRPF enter my house. If they wanted to search my house, they could have transferred me. How much time does it take for a chief minister to transfer a chief secretary?” asked Rao.

Remembering former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J Jayalalithaa, Rao said that if she were here, this would have never happened. “If Honourable Madam (Jayalalithaa) was here today, this would not have happened. I managed Madam’s funeral and handled when Chennai was battered by the cyclone. My reputation precedes me. I am a big hurdle to many. I am a hardcore man and they fear me,” said Rao, adding that he feared for his life.

On 21 December, Income Tax authorities raided the house and office of Rao after a tip-off. The premises were searched by officials, who claimed to have recovered Rs 30 lakh in cash in new notes and five kilograms of gold besides getting “disclosure” about Rs five crore of unaccounted income. The raids were carried out at 15 places, including the office and the residence of Rao, his son Vivek and some relatives in Chennai and Chittoor in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, I-T sources had told PTI.

Rao was appointed as the Tamil Nadu chief secretary in June 2016.

Rao also refuted claims that he had any business links with mining baron Shekhar Reddy. A senior I-T official had told The Indian Express that the raids at Rao’s home and office were linked to the seizure of Rs 132 crore in cash (including Rs 34 crore in new notes) and 177 kilograms of gold from mining baron J Sekhar Reddy earlier this month. “Documents seized from Reddy’s premises were the major evidence, as they had details linked to Rao. It was a matter of ascertaining locations before launching the raid,” the official told the paper. Rao, however, on Tuesday said:

Within 24 hours after the raid, Girija Vaidyanathan, an officer with a no-nonsense work ethic, was appointed as Rao’s successor. The political class reportedly wanted to wait till an FIR was filed but was advised that the raid had already dented the image of the government and any delay would only reflect poorly on the AIADMK.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 11:49 IST

Curtain Call 2016: Tamil Nadu ends year grieving for their ‘Amma’ J Jayalalithaa

Chennai: 2016 ended as a year of grief for people of Tamil Nadu who lost their popular leader J Jayalalithaa, who had only seven months ago led her party to a comprehensive successive second victory in the Assembly polls.

Cyclone Vardah hitting hard and a series of protests and sporadic violence on the Cauvery issue stretching over a month were among the other key events that the state witnessed this year. As the ruling AIADMK is trying to find its feet in both party affairs and governance with the passing away of Jayalalithaa, main Opposition DMK is on a wait-and-watch mode though it continues to take up key issues like Cauvery and Jallikattu to keep the political pot boiling. DMK treasurer MK Stalin became the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly for the first time, and his party won 89 seats.

Cyclone Vardah hit the state was like deja vu, reminding the sufferings of 2015’s heavy rains during the corresponding period. Chief Minister O Panneerselvam has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to release Rs 22,573 crore as cyclone aid. Jayalalithaa swung into action from day one after being sworn in May as chief minister for the sixth time by implementing a slew of measures. Waiver of crop loans for farmers, increase in gold allocation for women beneficiaries and closure of 500 Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac) liquor outlets were among the measures aimed at fulfilling her electoral promises.

File image of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. AFPFile image of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. AFP

File image of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. AFP

Ever since Jayalalithaa’s hospitalisation on 22 September, till her passing away on 5 December, the state remained on tenterhooks with medical bulletins appearing on and off on her health status. Mass prayers in places of worship across Tamil Nadu by AIADMK workers and supporters became a regular feature.

The entrance area to Apollo Hospital where she underwent treatment became a makeshift prayer ground and across the state, milk pot prayer processions and tonsuring of head by partymen were often seen. For DMK workers, repeated hospitalisation of its nonagenarian leader Karunanidhi due to illness caused anxiety though he is now on the path of recovery, according to Kauvery Hospital where he is getting treated.

With the passing away of Jayalalithaa, AIADMK leaders wanted her aide VK Sasikala to lead the party, with more functionaries voicing their support to her to ascend the seat of governance as chief minister as well. Though Tamil Nadu’s legal battle to get Cauvery waters for standing crops continues, the issue witnessed a series of heightened protests and sporadic violence in the state during September and October.

Such protests, spanning several weeks, had an adverse impact on the common people especially in the districts bordering Karnataka including Krishnagiri. A bandh supported by farmers outfits and opposition parties was held and a cadre belonging to Nam Thamizhar Katchi died after setting himself ablaze.

People walking several kilometres from Hosur (Tamil Nadu) to reach Bengaluru, or to return to the state from Karnataka towns became everyday stories. As violence took a serious turn in September in Karnataka with the torching of 30 buses in Bengaluru of a private operator from Tamil Nadu, the situation turned for worse. Bus services, truck transport got shut completely for weeks together and inter-state borders were even sealed.

Cauvery issue also gained much political traction during September and a divide erupted among political parties over it. Though Jayalalithaa had already resumed the legal battle in Supreme Court for Cauvery waters before being admitted to hospital on 22 September, the issue was taken up in a big way by main opposition DMK to target the AIADMK regime. Weeks preceding the November polls, the DMK stepped up pressure on the government to convene a special House session and convene an-all party meeting and held a rally on the issue in Tamil Nadu’s hub of Cauvery delta at Thanjavur.

Later, it held an “all-party meeting” which drew flak from ruling AIADMK and other parties like BJP. Leading to a further divide among parties on Cauvery issue, while DMK MPs separately called on President Pranab Mukherjee, AIADMK MPs marched to the Prime Minister’s Office and submitted a memorandum seeking action.

Comparatively, though Opposition parties gave lesser attention to by-polls as only ruling parties have won in such polls in Tamil Nadu in the past decades, DMK took the polls for Thanjavur and Aravakkurichi and the bypoll to Thirupparankundram quite seriously. DMK treasurer Stalin extensively toured all the poll bound areas and taunted the ruling regime with his pet “the government is non-functional” barb.

The ruling party won comfortably in all the three constituencies. With Tamil Nadu government deciding to implement the Food Security Act, it was cited by DMK treasurer Stalin as beginning of an “U-turn” by Tamil Nadu government in view of the hospitalisation of Jayalalithaa. He said such schemes which were opposed vehemently by Jayalalithaa were now allegedly being given concurrence by the state government after her hospitalisation. He even accused the Centre of “intimidating” the state over such issues.

In August, a train heist stunned Tamil Nadu in which Rs 5.78 crore was stolen by breaking open the roof of a parcel van attached to the Salem-Chennai Express. In October, two of the SIMI activists wanted by Tamil Nadu police in connection with the 2014 May train blast case in Chennai (in which a techie was killed) were among the eight killed in an encounter in Bhopal bringing curtains down in the two-year-old case.

Arrest of Dawood Suleiman, the kingpin behind the al Qaeda inspired module “Base Movement” responsible for blasts in court complexes in South India and his associates including N Abbas Ali of Madurai was a major breakthrough for the NIA in Tamil Nadu.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 11:43 IST

Jayalalithaa’s supporters immortalise her with a 68-kilogram idli tribute

Late Tamil Nadu chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s supporters continue to pay tribute to her, after her demise on 5 December. A group of supporters made a 68 kilogram idli, a south Indian delicacy, with Jayalalithaa’s face on it.

The 68-kilogram idli, was displayed at Chennai’s famous Marina Beach, where she was buried. The pictures of the idli went viral on the internet and Twitter users, expectedly, reacted to it. Much to the amusement of many, this was an unusual way of expression of love and support.

Amma’s supporters have always taken the bizarre route. Earlier, fans and supporters got themselves inked with tattoos of Amma on their bodies. Another supporter volunteered to nail himself to a cross demanding that Amma be reinstated as the state’s chief minister.

AIADMK claimed in its release that at least 597 supporters died out of grief upon hearing the news of Jayalalithaa’s demise.

The Tamil Nadu government, now led by O Panneerselvam, has declared a relief package of Rs 3 lakh to the families of those who died of grief.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 15:25 IST

Confer Bharat Ratna on Jayalalithaa: Tamil Nadu CM’s request to PM Modi

Mon, 19 Dec 2016-11:35pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday to confer “Bharat Ratna” posthumously on J Jayalalithaa.”I have requested the prime minister to recognise services and welfare policies of Amma and confer her Bharat Ratna,” he said after a meeting with Modi. Accompanied by state Chief Secretary Rama Mohana Rao, advisor Sheela Balakrishnan and Deputy Lok Sabha Speaker M Thambidurai, he also put forth a request for setting up a state-sponsored statue of Jayalalithaa in Parliament complex.”Permission for installation of a life-sized statue of the departed leader on the Parliament premises has also been sought,” Panneerselvam said.At its first meeting on December 10 after Jaya’s death, the Tamil Nadu Cabinet had decided to recommend her name for Bharat Ratna and to propose to the Centre to install her life-size bronze statue in Parliament complex.

AIADMK leaders want Sasikala to become Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, lead party

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A host of senior AIADMK functionaries on Sunday called on former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s aide VK Sasikala and urged her to take on the mantle of both the party and the state government as general secretary and Chief Minister respectively.Days after the demise of Jayalalithaa, top AIADMK leaders, including Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai had urged Sasikala to become the party General Secretary, a post held by ‘Amma’ all her life.Against this background, the functionaries wanted Sasikala, called “Chinnamma” (younger amma) by AIADMK workers to not only lead the party, but also the government.
ALSO READ Sasikala names baby girl named after JayalalithaaJayalalithaa Peravai, a wing of the ruling AIADMK, had earlier in the day passed a resolution urging Sasikala to become both party general secretary and Chief Minister by contesting from RK Nagar constituency here, which was represented by late Jayalalithaa.Peravai Secretary RB Udhayakumar who is also the Tamil Nadu Revenue Minister, handed over the resolution titled “Thai Thanta Varam,” (Sasikala is a boon granted by Amma) to Sasikala, urging her to take the responsibilities of both the party and the government.
ALSO READ Wrong to nominate ‘Chinnamma’ as AIADMK gen secy, she tried to kill Jayalalithaa: Sasikala Pushpa”Besides guarding AIADMK, Chinnamma should fight the RK Nagar bypoll (now vacant due to the death of Jayalalithaa) and assume responsibility as Chief Minister, and lead the Amma’s government,” Udhayakumar had told reporters.Information Minister Kadambur Raju and Endowments Minister Sevoor S Ramachandran, who are also Peravai functionaries,were among 50 Peravai members who called on Sasikala, along with Udhaya Kumar.
ALSO READ Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala Natarajan to be party’s next Gen Secy: AIADMKParty cadres led by Tirupur Rural District Secretary, Udumalai K Radhakrishnan, the Housing Minister, also made a similar demand.He said “we requested Chinnamma to guard 1.5 crore AIADMK workers by becoming the party General Secretary and the over seven crore people of Tamil Nadu by becoming Chief Minister.” Radhakrishan said a resolution passed in this regard was handed over to Sasikala.Flanked by Ministers P Benjamin (Rural Industries) and K Pandiarajan (School Education) from his district, Tiruvallur East district secretary V Alexander said they gave Chinnamma a resolution adopted by their party unit, making this request.North Chennai (South) District Secretary and former Rajya Sabha MP N Balaganga, South Chennai (North) District Secretary and former MLA,V P Kalairajan,Madurai Rural District Secretary Rajan Chellappa, former Agriculture Minister, Agri S S Krishnamoorthy (Tiruvannamalai District) were among party functionaries who wanted Sasikala to assume responsibilities of party and government.They and district level cadres visited the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa where Sasikala continues to live and gave her copies of resolutions adopted at their party units.Thambidurai accompanied Sasikala when she met the functionaries at Poes Garden.

Cyclone Vardah relief: Tamil Nadu CM O Panneerselvam to meet PM Modi

File image of O Panneerselvam. PTIFile image of O Panneerselvam. PTI

File image of O Panneerselvam. PTI

Chennai: Days after he urged the Centre to grant Rs 1000 Crore for cyclone relief operations in the state, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday to press the demand.

He will also urge the Centre to posthumously confer “Bharat Ratna” on former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and also put up her life size bronze statue in Parliament complex, an official release said.

The first Cabinet meeting chaired by Panneerselvam on 10 December had adopted a resolution in which the twin matters of the highest civilian award and a statue for Jayalalithaa figured.

On 13 December, a day after the cyclone wrecked havoc in the state, Panneerselvam had urged Modi in a letter to sanction Rs 1,000 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund to the state for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Panneerselvam will also give a memorandum on several other demands of Tamil Nadu to the Prime Minister, the release said adding he will return to Chennai the same day. After he took over as Chief Minister on 6 December, it will be the first visit of Panneerselvam to the PM in Delhi and he is expected to follow up on the previous memorandums submitted to Modi by his predecessor Jayalalithaa.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 15:41 IST

Rahul Gandhi meets Karunanidhi, says DMK chief is doing well

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday called on DMK patriarch Karunanidhi, who is undergoing treatment for lung and throat infection at a private hospital here, and said the leader was doing well.”I just met him, I wanted to personally wish him a speedy recovery. I was very happy to see that he is doing well and the doctors told me that he is going to go home pretty soon and that is good news,” he told reporters.Flanked by senior party leaders including Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president Su Thirunavukkarasar and DMK treasurer M K Stalin, he hailed Karuananidhi as a “leader of the Tamil people, leader of Tamil Nadu, so I thought I would come and wish him personally.”To a query, he said, “Yes I met him (Karunanidhi), I said hello to him and he is doing well hopefully he will be out (of the hospital) soon and Congress president (Sonia Gandhi) has also sent her regards to him.”The 92-year-old Karunanidhi was admitted to Kauvery Hospital here on the night of December 15 following complaints of difficulty in breathing due to throat and lung infection. Yesterday, he underwent tracheostomy at the hospital to optimise breathing and later the hospital said the DMK chief’s condition was stable. Last night, after the tracheostomy procedure, his condition improved and even he watched a Rajinikanth starrer ‘Batcha’ on his laptop.This is the first visit that Rahul Gandhi is paying a visit to Karunanidhi in last many years. Even during his several previous visits to Tamil Nadu Gandhi he did not call on the nonagenarian leader though Congress and DMK are allies. Weeks ago, when he had visited Apollo Hospitals here to enquire about the health of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, there were expectations in the DMK camp that he could pay a visit to party patriarch Karunanidhi as well. However, he did not visit the DMK chief then Rahul Gandhi was accompanied by senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh during his brief visit. After visiting Karunanidhi, Rahul Gandhi immediately took a flight to Delhi from here. Former Union Minister and Rajya Sabha MP, P Chidambaram, TNCC president Thirunavukkarasar, Congress Legislature Party leader Ramasamy received him at the airport and also later saw him off.

Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa: Power remains firmly in Poes Garden, for now

Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa: Power remains firmly in Poes Garden, for now

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J Jayalalithaa is dead and her party cadre is jostling to dive before Jaya’s aide V K Sasikala and touch her feet. What does this mean for party politics and does it matter all that much when the real test looms – elections? As political parties circle overhead, Sasikala rules from Poes Garden and O Panneerselvam does what he does best – keeping the peace and turning down the volume. The circumstances surrounding Jaya’s death remain shrouded in mystery, her super-fans are livid and the final word on the

Sasikala Natarajan rules from Poes Garden / PTISasikala Natarajan rules from Poes Garden / PTI

Sasikala Natarajan rules from Poes Garden / PTI

disproportionate assets case – the one in which Jaya and Sasikala were jailed – is still to come. Narayan Lakshman of The Hindu and Nikhila Natarajan catch up for a chat barely 500 mts from where Jayalalithaa lies buried, in a casket that’s been locked many times over with gold plated keys.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 17:00 IST

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BMC tells Bombay HC could not meet due to Jayalalithaa’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bombay High Court on Thursday expressed surprise over civic body BMC’s contention that its general body could not meet on December 8 to grant approval for setting up of a doppler radar system due to AIADMK leader Jayalalithas demise and asked if corporators went to Tamil Nadu to mourn.The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) general body was to meet on December 8 to discuss a proposal for sanctioning of a site in suburban Goregaon to set up a doppler radar system.BMC counsel SU Kamdar on Thursday informed a division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice MS Sonak that the body, comprising corporators, could not meet due to the death of Jayalalithaa and Mumbai’s former Mayor Ramesh Prabhu. The bench expressed surprise at this and asked if the corporators had gone to Tamil Nadu to mourn after Jayalalithaa’s demise on the night of December 5.Kamdar told the court that the general body would now meet on Friday.The bench was hearing a public interest litigation by advocate Atal Bihari Dubey on the heavy rains that brought Mumbai to a halt in June this year. While there is one doppler radar system in Colaba weather station, a state government-appointed committee had recommended for setting up another system in suburban Mumbai.The India Meteorological Department (IMD) had identified three sites for construction of the system, but the civic body had not granted its approval to hand over the land. The high court had in the past come down heavily on the corporation for dragging its feet in the matter and directed the civic body to ensure that all efforts are taken to grant approval for the site.The bench has posted the petition for further hearing on December 20.

Petition filed in SC seeking Centre to probe Jaya death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre to probe the death of Tamil Nadu’s former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, contending that the circumstances leading to her demise were surrounded by mystery. The petition filed by Tamilnadu Telugu Yuva Sakthi claimed that doubts have been raised over the circumstances of AIADMK leader’s death and her medical reports needed to be examined by experts.The plea said the secrecy maintained with regard to her treatment and death is “very suspicious” and raised serious questions among all sections.It sought a direction to the government to “investigate the allegations raised by the relatives, opposition party, eminent person on mysterious death of Jayalalithaa” who died on the night of December 5.The petition also sought court’s direction to authorities concerned to disclose the health report and details of the treatment given to Jayalalithaa.It said during her hospitalization, several decisions were taken by the government which may have serious consequences on governance, public at large and on exchequer.The petition sought direction to the Centre, Tamil Nadu government and Apollo Hospitals to disclose the health report and treatment details and submit it to the apex court in sealed cover.The plea also sought direction to protect the properties of Jayalalithaa across the country till the apex court decides the petition and delivers judgment in the disproportionate assets case against her.

PIL in SC seeking CBI probe in Jayalalithaa’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Chennai-based NGO has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court demanding a CBI probe in the death of Tamil Nadu’s former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, ANI reported.The NGO has also demanded access to the medical documents of the former chief minister.68-year-old Jayalalithaa, who fondly known as ‘Amma’ suffered a cardiac arrest on December 4, and passed away the next day. She was hospitalised since September 22, 2016.At least 470 persons reportedly died of “shock” after the demise of AIADMK party supremo. The party has also announced a relief of Rs 3 lakh each to the families.Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Cabinet has decided to recommend late AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa for ‘Bharat Ratna’, the highest civilian honour of the country, and to propose to the Centre to install her life-size bronze statue in Parliament complex.

Cyclone Vardah: O Panneerselvam survives the storm with the right political optics

In his first week as third time chief minister, O Panneerselvam has impressed. It helped that expectations from him were very low. For a government known for its opacity, the fact that the AIADMK dispensation found a voice and communicated effectively in the run-up to Cyclone Vardah and through it, was commendable. All forms of social media were extensively used to ensure the messaging reached far and wide.

Once it was clear that the cyclone was headed towards north of Chennai and not between Kakinada and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh as it was initially predicted, work on warning people began 24 hours before 12 December. The first advisory asked people to stay indoors. Experience in other cities like Hyderabad during the 2016 floods and Visakhapatnam during the 2014 ‘Cyclone Hudhud’ has shown human misery can be minimised to a great extent by ensuring citizens did not venture outdoors. It was also ensured that those living in the low-lying areas were moved to safer locations and vigil posted on the Marina to keep an eye on any fishermen who tried to venture into the sea.

Area-wise groups were created on Whatsapp by the Chennai police, the city corporation and even some MLAs to disseminate information on real time basis. The Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority used its Twitter handle to keep a two-way communication going, informing people about the movement of Cyclone Vardah and asking people to send information about blockades and uprooting of trees in their areas. Electricity minister Thangamani was giving updates on when power will be restored in Chennai. Amma Canteens were kept open to serve food, free of cost.

File image of O Panneerselvam. PTIFile image of O Panneerselvam. PTI

File image of O Panneerselvam. PTI

The Tamil Nadu Public Relations department also was putting out information about what its ministers and bureaucrats were doing to tackle the devastation caused by the cyclone. Photographs of Panneerselvam at review meetings and distributing relief material were shared. As did the AIADMK twitter handle, which focused on reaching out to people in distress rather than scoring political brownie points.

Disaster management expert WG Prasanna Kumar says the government’s response was effective. “Northeast monsoon increasingly throws these challenges. Regular preparatory drill is a must. Chennai, in the long run, needs effective community-based disaster risk reduction management system where local communities along with local bodies should be able to alert and support each other,” says Prasanna Kumar.

Contrast this with December last year, when Jayalalithaa was at the helm of affairs. Barring the Chennai municipal commissioner who was drafted to be the face of the government and defend it, the political administration was clueless and completely absent. AIADMK spokespersons tried every trick in the book to ensure the buck did not stop with Poes Garden, even suggesting that it was because of Amma that Chennai was not devastated.

The distribution of relief material was largely a private affair, with several citizens including film stars, pitching in as volunteers. But overenthusiastic AIADMK cadre stopped several vehicles carrying relief material and allegedly pasted photographs of Jayalalithaa on the packets containing food, water, medicines, blankets and so on. That left a bad taste in the mouth.

AIADMK paid the price for this crass behaviour. In several localities of Chennai, the anger against the AIADMK representatives was so much they many were booed away after they made an appearance after the waters had receded. The people of Chennai showed their anger on the EVM in May this year, when 10 of the 16 AIADMK candidates in the Chennai constituencies lost.

But it is not as if the response to Cyclone Vardah was perfect. The AIADMK leadership was still in mourning after former chief minister Jayalalithaa’s demise on 5 December. And till Saturday, it was obsessed more with requesting Sasikala to take over the reins of the party as the next general secretary.

Chennai-based social activist Chandramohan points out that the city would not have lost more than 500 trees if the Corporation had planned for a stormy and wet December. “Common sense would suggest that when a cyclone approaches with over 100 kilometres per hour speed, the best way to deal with it is by trimming as many trees as you can so they do not get uprooted in the manner so many have in Chennai,” says Chandramohan.

Given that the cyclones frequently ravage the Andhra and Tamil Nadu coast, Vishakhapatnam and its experience with Cyclone Hudhud should be a template. A centralised control room that branches out to disseminate information to people, media and other agencies is critical to keep losses to the minimum. It will take several years for Chennai to replace the kind of green cover it has lost to Cyclone Vardah. Fortunately, human loss was kept low, unlike last December, when over 500 people were killed.

The sight of Chennai airport going under water each time the city faces rain fury is terrible advertisement for a metropolis. It urgently needs to ensure against flooding of the runway so that unless visibility is very low, the airport can still be operational. Last December saw Chennai airport cut off for close to a week, this year, the closure will be for a shorter period.

Chennai on Tuesday morning is picking up the pieces. It is a city ravaged with streets lined with uprooted trees, smashed cars, broken windowpanes and blown away hoardings. Life will return to normal soon but hopefully it has learnt its lessons and will better its response the next time a system in the Indian Ocean decides to test it.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 12:31 IST

I hurt Jayalalithaa, was key reason for AIADMK’s defeat: Rajinikanth

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil ‘Superstar’ Rajinikanth on Sunday paid rich tributes to late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, describing her as a ‘kohinoor diamond’ who had made her way up through difficulties in a male-dominated society.At a condolence meeting, organised by the South Indian Artistes’ Association or the Nadigar Sangam for Jayalalithaa and actor-journalist Cho S Ramaswami, Rajinikanth also recalled his strong statements against her during the 1996 Assembly polls, which had “hurt” her.”I had hurt her. I was a key reason for her (party’s) defeat,” he said, referring to his criticism of the then AIADMK government.The actor had then famously remarked that “even god can’t save Tamil Nadu” if Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK was elected to power again. The then DMK-TMC (Tamil Maanila Congress) combine had swept the polls amid strong anti-incumbency.Jayalalithaa, however, later proved to be a “golden-hearted” leader, Rajinikanth said.Paying rich tributes to the former chief minister, he said it was with great difficulty that she could take over the reins of the AIADMK following the death of its founder and her political mentor MG Ramachandran and that she had even overtaken him in achievements.He likened her to a diamond, saying the challenges of life had further polished her.Having lost her father at the age of two and mother 20 years later, she faced various challenges including having no family but achieved fame by hard work in a male-dominated society, he said.”Today, she is resting like a kohinoor diamond at the MGR memorial site and enjoys the love and affection of so many people,” he added.He also paid rich tributes to Ramaswamy, his long time friend.Hospitalised on September 22 and having suffered a cardiac arrest on December 4, 68-year-old Jayalalithaa had passed away the next day.Ramaswamy, a veteran journalist, satirist, playwright and actor died of illness on December 7.

Rajinikanth describes Jayalalithaa as a ‘kohinoor diamond’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil ‘Superstar’ Rajinikanth on Sunday paid rich tributes to late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, describing her as a ‘kohinoor diamond’ who had made her way up through difficulties in a male-dominated society.At a condolence meeting, organised by the South Indian Artistes’ Association or the Nadigar Sangam for Jayalalithaa and actor-journalist Cho S Ramaswami, Rajinikanth also recalled his strong statements against her during the 1996 Assembly polls, which had “hurt” her.”I had hurt her. I was a key reason for her (party’s) defeat,” he said, referring to his criticism of the then AIADMK government.The actor had then famously remarked that “even god can’t save Tamil Nadu” if Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK was elected to power again. The then DMK-TMC (Tamil Maanila Congress) combine had swept the polls amid strong anti-incumbency.Jayalalithaa, however, later proved to be a “golden-hearted” leader, Rajinikanth said.Paying rich tributes to the former chief minister, he said it was with great difficulty that she could take over the reins of the AIADMK following the death of its founder and her political mentor MG Ramachandran and that she had even overtaken him in achievements.Having lost her father at the age of two and mother 20 years later, she faced various challenges including having no family but achieved fame by hard work in a male-dominated society, he said. “Today, she is resting like a kohinoor diamond at the MGR memorial site and enjoys the love and affection of so many people,” he added.Hospitalised on September 22 and having suffered a cardiac arrest on December 4, 68-year-old Jayalalithaa had passed away the next day.Rajinikanth also paid rich tributes to Ramaswamy, his long time friend. Ramaswamy, a veteran journalist, satirist, playwright and actor died of illness on December 7.

Jayalalithaa & Hillary Clinton: On grief, glass ceilings and fighting back

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Grief is the emotion that defines the last five weeks for some of us. Watching the US Presidential election results threw thousands into a depression— across the board because of what it said about how Americans really felt about issues that were thought to be history, but for many of us, because Hillary Clinton came so very close to shattering the last glass ceiling in her country’s political system. This week, many of us felt an unanticipated sense of loss when J Jayalalithaa’s death was officially announced. Whether we agreed with her politically (I mostly did not) and whether we had ever voted for her (I had only done so this year), a great sadness was pervasive. Nothing changes that reality. Supporters grieve Jayalalithaa’s demise. (AFP)“Margaret, are you grievingOver Goldengrove unleaving?” Gerard Manley Hopkins asks a young child in a poem I read in Class 10 and have carried in my heart ever since. Why did we react to these two events with such sadness? Why did I?I belong to a generation that could have never predicted the possibility that an African-American could become the American President. It happened. Twice. When Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination in July, we gave ourselves permission to hope that girls in the US too would be able to aspire to this office. Clinton’s feminism falls short by the yardsticks now held up, especially by younger women, but now the once-impossible was close enough to touch. Never mind that the road to Election Day was paved with the most misogynistic baiting— not just by the other candidate but by the media as well. Clinton held her own, with tenacity, grace and focus, and still she lost. That you could give your whole adult life to public service, that you could work so hard, that you could bear with so much, that you could come so very close and still not be considered good enough for a job that went to someone with a negligible fraction of what you brought to the table— that said that women were simply not entitled to ambition or reward. We were disappointed that Clinton did not win, but what we mourned most of all was that betrayal. It was not that merit, focus and effort were not enough. The message was clear— women were not enough. Not good enough. Not smart enough. Not anything enough to make it to the top. Embed from Getty ImagesJayalalithaa’s story is almost the opposite. In a society where all indicators suggest that women cannot succeed, her sustained ascendancy requires us to recast our assumptions. Someone commented that gender was irrelevant to her story. Gender was completely relevant to her story—her objectification in cinema, her vilification in politics—but her success lay in making them seem irrelevant. Notwithstanding her welfare measures, Jayalalithaa’s politics were gender-blind. Jayalalithaa also belied any essentialist argument for women in power— that they will bring nurture and gender sensitivity to their work. Like any other politician, she has left behind a conventional, mixed track record on the “women’s empowerment” score. Many of us are sad to think of the journey that brought her to this pre-eminence— the price she paid at every turn breaks our heart because we know that is the price every woman politician pays in every patriarchal society. Jayalalithaa was an easy target because she came from cinema to politics— even criticism about her policies was tinged with disapproval of her relationships and her appearance. Even when we disagreed with her on most counts, her presence affirmed that women could force the world to take them seriously. When the mutterers and mockers got done, they would find she was still one of the most powerful people in the country.(PTI)“Now no matter, child, the name:Sorrow’s springs are the same… It is Margaret you mourn for.” Hopkins holds a mirror up to our grief, saying that we mourn for who we once were and can never be again, and we mourn also for what we could never become. In Clinton’s loss and Jayalalithaa’s death, we have seen mirrored our own journeys— coming up against speed-bumps, obstacles, landmines and glass ceilings everywhere. Our grief tells us how every barb they faced mirrored one in our own experience.Hillary Clinton giving her concession speech the day after the election. (Reuters)Clinton and Jayalalithaa had much in common— sharp minds, great work ethic, tremendous ambitious, tenacity, resilience, tumultuous personal lives that kept getting dragged into public discourse and both faced unbelievable sexism and body-shaming. We hurt at their loss because it brings back the wounds of every loss and every jibe we ever faced. The accidental-done-on-purpose forgetting to include us in discussions. The so-called compliment that draws attention to our bodies and away from our professional presence. The friendly advice out of fake concern about our health that undermines our confidence. The unspoken quid pro quos—to forget the things people say and do (the everyday sexism) or to overlook the thing they fail to do (like giving you credit)—in order to keep an oppressive peace. The clinging on to the high ground because it’s the right thing to do, though your fingers hurt and your eyes smart. The hurtful jokes that never sound funny. The dismissal of our ideas that precedes their being co-opted as someone else’s original thought. The creation of standards for our success that do not apply to anyone else— must be personable, must be brilliant, must work hard, must not be ambitious, must not want credit, must not upset the apple-cart, must know her place. Clinton’s election loss and Jayalalithaa’s final departure allow us to cry and rant for all the times in our lives that we have kept quiet.It is Margaret we mourn for.The child in the Hopkins poem has no way to change or reverse either autumn or growing older. But, in our hands, lies the ability to make women’s political activism and participation a less hazardous choice. Since it is also the season of year-gone-by reviews and resolutions, here are some thoughts for things we can work on in 2017 so that we do not feel this grief again.In 2017, we expect five Indian states to elect new legislators— Goa, Punjab, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. This means we need to get started right away on asking the right questions, lobbying for some bare minimum commitments, holding parties accountable to them and monitoring the election closely. This is civil society’s work— and we are all part of civil society to the extent we choose to be pro-active citizens.Political parties go through the ritual of preparing manifestos. A couple of decades ago, because you could not circulate them very widely and because a healthy scepticism then animated our democracy, we saw these as rituals and manifestos as largely interchangeable. We ignored manifestos routinely. Now we analyse them when they are published but forget to hold winning coalitions responsible for keeping their word. Anyway, since we do seem to think manifestos matter, ensuring gender inclusivity in the issues addressed and gender sensitivity in the language and approach would be a place to begin. Who drafts manifestos and who finalises them? These are the people we need to sensitise.The second challenge in an election season is ensuring that there is gender parity in the allocation of election tickets. How many women are being nominated and who are the women being nominated? Apart from petitions and demands, one useful intervention in each state would be to create directories of women that belie the usual excuse: “Where can we find competent women?” Forget pointing out that competence is not a requirement for male nominees; it would be more constructive to simply provide lists of Panchayat and Zilla Parishad women as well as women social workers from villages and district towns. Is this something we can do in each state?Black money is not the only campaign finance issue that needs to be addressed. Access to campaign support is gendered and parties tend to neglect women candidates in their apportionment. For structural reasons, it is much harder for women to raise funds to campaign. Recognising this, a non-profit in the US, EMILY’s List, identifies women candidates who espouse a set of core political values and helps them raise funds. (‘EMILY’ stands for ‘Early Money is Like Yeast.’) India does not have a comparable culture of political giving so an Indian EMILY’s List is two steps away— creating a culture of individual support to political parties and creating a demand for good women candidates such that people will pay to support them. A more immediate goal would be to engender the campaign finance reform conversation, itself only a faint thread in political discourse.Embed from Getty ImagesRelated to money is the on-ground political support for female candidates. Often in my constituency, a major party does nominate a woman. But unless we really research the candidates, we continue to know little about the person. Too many of us in the voter queues read the Election Commission poster and make a random choice on the spur of the moment. Nomination is the beginning of the journey; female candidates also need a share of political workers who can canvass votes, public and media relations support to raise their profile and ground-level support by more prominent party leaders. This is also a good way to judge a party’s commitment to gender equality.Even easier, because outrage is how we talk politics now, is to call out misogynistic speech and signal that it is now unacceptable to us. The election campaigns to come will be bitterly fought and because women leaders will figure prominently, the vitriol will probably be patronising and sexist. The simplest—laziest—thing we can do is to monitor hate speech and communicate our disapproval in a variety of ways— social media posts and reactions to petitions. Can we commit to cleaner, more inclusive and less ad hominem campaigns?In May last year, before the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, Prajnya put together a Gender Equality Election Checklist which may be applied to any election context.Elections place a spotlight on women’s political exclusion, but really, the time to change that is in the years between elections. Off-season, it becomes clearer where the choke points are, and what can be done to remove them. Off-season, it should be easier to approach one’s representatives and local activists and initiate first conversations about local gender concerns. The years between elections are particularly suited to three sets of important interventions.In the years since gender quotas were introduced into local government, a great deal has been invested in training women Panchayat leaders. However, once trained and armed with experience, these women find they have nowhere to go. Doors open to a minuscule percentage of them at the next level. For the women who cross this threshold, the policy issues are relatively different. The election off-season is a great time for creating training processes and access to policy education for women who have been in Panchayats and are either seeking office at other levels or have been elected at other levels.Embed from Getty ImagesIt is also a good time for civil society to build two kinds of relationships. The first is a consultative equation with legislators that can inform Parliamentary debate on specific issues. Ideally, both sides should seek this out, but typically, civil society does so halfheartedly and the platforms acquire a ceremonial rather than substantive cast. The rare MP or MLA that really wants to sit down and learn and talk through issues is the one that must be feted in the ways that matter— not bouquets and panegyric but through letting people know that these are serious people. Let us reward people for their advocacy of gender issues and their willingness to be identified with inclusive ideals.The second is to create, host and facilitate cross-party alliances on key gender issues. Some things are truly above politics— equality should be one of them. Inner-party politics in India, especially at the state level, divests members of autonomy when it comes to any policy or issue engagement. Party members seek permission for the smallest thing and a siege mentality coats every casual conversation on a social issue with the tinge of possible betrayal. This paranoia may serve parties in some obscure way but it serves us not at all. Can we start to tinker with this thinking in small ways and to build the alliances that will foster true, substantive debate?Where will the women emerge from in nomination season if we have not made them visible in the off-season? I address both civil society and media here. The rosters and directories I spoke of earlier cannot be assembled overnight. The networking opportunities take time to create. Civil society and media are uniquely positioned to sift through false claims and to create openings for sustained, deep social engagement for women who seek a political career. Making women in public life visible is also a way of protecting them from violence and of supporting Women Human Rights Defenders. Moreover, despite how we think of politicians, many women political activists lack simple media and communication skills. How to organise and deliver a speech, how to canvass, the art of writing a pamphlet or a press release, how to use the internet— these are skills anyone can learn and these are skills we can teach each other as a form of support. This is the time to invest in building that kind of capacity.The death of Jayalalithaa this week and Hillary Clinton’s electoral loss a few weeks ago should move us towards action. The sense of purpose we universally admire in them must now inform our choices in 2017. The glass ceiling does not need to shatter; it can systematically be lifted off by our collective resolve and effort. I will make that effort; will you?Swarna Rajagopalan is a political scientist by training and the founder of Prajnya, whose work is largely focused on gender equality.

Sasikala imbibed thoughts & working style of Jayalalithaa, should lead AIADMK: TN CM O Panneerselvam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Strongly backing late Jayalalithaa’s long time aide Sasikala, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Sunday said she should become general secretary and lead the AIADMK.”There is no second opinion on the issue. If anyone has second thoughts, they are not true AIADMK workers,” Jaya Plus Tamil TV channel reported Panneerselvam as saying.He said Sasikala shared Jayalalithaa’s grief, she lived with her as her trusted aide and was like a sister. She imbibed the thoughts and working style of Jayalalithaa by being with her for over 30 years. She lived like Jayalalithaa’s shadow “till Amma’s death,” he said.”Like Amma, Chinnamma (as Sasikala is referred to by party workers) knows each and every party worker. To ensure continuance of the party’s functioning with the same level of discipline one can find in the army, brought about by Amma, the only way out in the present situation is for Chinnamma to become the general secretary and lead the party,” he said.”To fill the void in the party created by the demise of Amma, AIADMK senior party leaders and ministers have urged Chinnamma to take on the mantle of general secretary,” he said.Panneerselvam, also the party Treasurer, praised Sasikala for steadfastly supporting Jayalalithaa till the end. He condemned criticism against Sasikala from certain quarters and said “rumours will not succeed.”
ALSO READ Sasikala uses the power of the Garden in Tamil NaduEarlier, a plea urging her to step into the shoes of Jayalalithaa was made by a delegation of leaders including AIADMK presidium chairman E Madhusudanan and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Thambidurai when they called on Sasikala at the Poes Garden residence of the late chief minister.A host of state ministers, including Dindigul C Srinivasan and Electricity Minister P Thangamani expressed similar sentiments in interviews to the channel.
ALSO READ Did Jayalalithaa leave behind a will? AIADMK has no answersThe leaders who called on Sasikala included former Ministers K A Sengottaiyan, B Valarmathi, Gokula Indira, former Chennai Mayor Saidai Duraisamy, party spokesperson C R Saraswathy and senior leader A Tamil Magan Hussain.Sasikala, 60, has been a close aide of Jayalalithaa for three decades and has always been seen as a power centre in the party.AIADMK Organisational Secretary C Ponnaiyan said there was nothing wrong in the Chief Minister and key party leaders consulting her. He had also asserted that the General Secretary would be elected soon and party remained united.Jaya Plus Television Channel, a pro-AIADMK Tamil News channel, aired the opinions of several AIADMK functionaries and state ministers, who lent support for Sasikala and urged her to assume the top party position soon.

Sasikala uses the power of the Garden in Tamil Nadu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A garden can be green, full of trees and flowers, with softness and fragrance all around. But in Tamil Nadu, the Garden is the epicentre of power – at least as far as the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) is concerned.Late MGR’s house, Ramavaram Thottam (garden), was a massive power centre for a decade. For nearly 30 years, Jayalalithaa’s residence in Chennai, the Poes Thottam (Poes Garden) has remained a power centre. For her aide, Sasikala, the biggest political weapon today is the Garden and the absolute power it wields over the cabinet and the AIADMK.In the last three days, Chief Minister O Paneerselvam, his cabinet colleagues and senior party functionaries have been making a beeline to the Garden every morning to hold discussions with Sasikala.Decisions have been taken here in the last three days. Some opposition parties have raised the issue of propriety and whether the state was being ruled by an extra-constitutional authority. AIADMK office-bearers and spokespersons on Saturday pooh-poohed such charges and said that there was nothing wrong in senior AIADMK leaders discussing party matters with Sasikala.AIADMK organising secretary and former minister C Ponnaiyan said Sasikala was a senior member of the party, and she looked after their leader until she breathed her last for nearly 30 years. He said Sasikala had sacrificed all that she had, to take care of Jaya. With ministers, party leaders and even officials visiting the house regularly, it is clear that the Garden is the real Secretariat and party headquarters.When Jayalalithaa was at the helm of affairs, she was largely inaccessible to most ministers and officials. Even the chosen few were mostly given instructions over the intercom. Sasikala would be the one relaying decisions to the party and to the government through a set of advisers to the CM. They would, in turn, inform the chief secretary, the home secretary and the DGP.This system continues to work even today. Advisers get instructions from Sasikala, they would pass them on to the CS, the DGP or the home secretary, and the files may be finally signed by Paneerselvam. Sasikala does not need any post to ensure that her fiat runs in the government and the party. Will she take a party post or one of her family members take over?For the moment, she realises that sections of the media and even some disgruntled men in the party do not take kindly to her. Perhaps, she would bide her time rather than show haste in grabbing a post now. She may choose the moment, after a few months, or she would keep away from all posts and still rule the party. It is said that she allotted party tickets to many MLAs before elections.There is one problem, though. Both Paneerselvam and she belong to the powerful Thevar community in the south. The Gounders, who form a significant chunk of the party, would want one of them to be the party general secretary. The Vanniars are a dominant lot in northern Tamil Nadu. The Dalits are quite strong in most parts of the state. Sasikala has to maintain a caste balance while filling up the posts.The party’s general council may be convened to elect a general secretary. One section of the party is pressing Sasikala herself to take up the post. However, she may put off her decision to assume an important post till the second half of 2017, when partymen may ask why not.Perceptions matter a lot in politics and Sasikala may wait to strike at the right time.

TN Cabinet recommends life-size bronze statue in Parliament complex, Bharat Ratna for Jayalalithaa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu Cabinet decided on Saturday to recommend late AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa for India’s highest civilian honour, the ‘Bharat Ratna’. In its first meeting chaired by Chief Minister O Panneerselvam after Jayalalithaa’s demise, the Cabinet also decided to recommend to the Centre installation of her life-size bronze statue in Parliament complex. “A resolution was adopted in the Cabinet to recommend to the Centre to award Bharat Ratna to honourable Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa,” an official statement detailing the decision taken in Saturday’s meeting said.Further, the Council of Ministers resolved to urge the Centre to install her bronze statue in the Parliament complex, and proposed to raise a memorial building for the deceased leader at the MG Ramachandran (MGR) Memorial site, where she was laid to rest on Tuesday at an estimated cost of Rs 15 crore. The Cabinet further resolved to rename the memorial as Dr Puratchi Thalaivar MGR and Puratchi Thalaivi Amma Selvi J Jayalalithaa Memorial, it added.The Cabinet also proposed to unveil a portrait of the leader in the Tamil Nadu Assembly. Panneerselvam also had a small portrait of his predecessor on his desk.
ALSO READ Cauvery row: ‘Jayalalithaa’s efforts have been rewarded by SC,’ says TN PWD Principal SecretaryThe Cabinet adopted a resolution condoling Jayalalithaa’s death. It said the 68 year-old leader had dedicated her life for the betterment of the people of Tamil Nadu, and help the state take giant strides in sectors like social welfare, education and growth.She was fondly addressed as ‘Amma’ (Mother), it said. Tracing her life from her being born to Sandhya-Jayaram in 1948, it said Jayalalithaa grew to be a bright student in school and excelled in arts like music and dance. It also recalled her successful film career, her skills of speaking several languages and also hailed her as a voracious reader.
ALSO READ Did Jayalalithaa leave behind a will? AIADMK has no answersShe had made her political entry in 1982 under the tutelage of M G Ramachandran and her speech at the Cuddalore public meeting was indicative of her successful political career, it said. She was even lauded by former prime minister Indira Gandhi for her speeches in Rajya Sabha on issues including internal security, it said.She was an “unparalleled leader” in the sense that she was AIADMK General Secretary for 28 of her 35 years of public service, a seven-time MLA and leading the party to many victories including the 2011 and 2016 assembly polls and 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it said.
ALSO READ Jayalalithaa’s death: AIADMK says 280 people have died of grief, shockShe overcame many challenges presented by rivals and had ruled the state with the sole motive of people’s welfare, it added. The Cabinet said Jayalalithaa had donated gold jewelleries she was wearing to then prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri during the 1965 Indo-Pak war.The Cabinet also hailed her active contribution on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, including batting for a separate Tamil homeland of Eelam and moving a resolution in the Assembly. It also referred to her various populist measures like free rice and said it had benefited people immensely.She had also brought the 69% reservation for OBC, it said. “We promise to work in the path laid down by Amma who is now watching us perform” from Marina where she was buried, the Ministers said, condoling her death. Earlier, Panneerselvam and other Ministers paid floral tributes to Jayalalithaa’s portrait and then held the meeting.

Does Jayalalithaa’s death signal the fall of federalism in Indian democracy?

The death of J Jayalalithaa, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and supremo of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), calls for an assessment of her and the party’s political role in her times. AIADMK has always been considered to be “softer” on federalism, compared to its parent party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). For starters, the words ‘All India’ as part of the party name marks it out to be a party that while claiming the legacy of DK and DMK situates itself somewhat apart from that strain of Tamil politics that till the early 1960s had an independent Tamil Nadu (Dravida Nadu in its maximalist form) as part of its political programme. CN Annadurai and his DMK gave up this demand on Nehru’s request as well as the rising Indian nationalist jingoism in the wake of the Sino-Indian war.

J Jayalalithaa led the AIADMK for a period longer than the party founder M.G.Ramachandran did. Thus, the political programme of the AIADMK has a huge imprint of J Jayalalithaa herself. AIADMK has always been considered the party that grew out of Dravidian politics but went on to become a party of technocratic and welfarist governance where the Tamil nationalism plank was much subdued in iconography and rhetoric, compared to the DMK. However, such is the hold of Tamil nationalism, for which Indian analysts use the sanitized term “Dravidian politics”. On deciding the relationship of Tamil Nadu with the Indian Union, J Jayalalithaa’s political life and times bear a testimony to a commitment to federalism that may fall short in certain Tamil standards but more than surpasses much of what goes under the name of federalism in the rest of the Indian Union, in its conviction, consistency and steadfastness. An assessment of the role of J Jayalalithaa in Indian Union’s political space has to have federalism as the central axis in the light of which we will realize how important AIADMK has been to the rest of us — non-Tamils in non-Tamil lands. Very often, in the face of Union government’s steamrolling of state rights and grave assaults of the federal structure from New Delhi, the DMK or AIADMK government of Tamil Nadu has protested and stopped New Delhi’s anti-federal designs in its tracks when our own state governments have been muted at best and in a mode of groveling surrender at worst. For any non-Hindi state in the Indian Union, the stance on the question federalism is an important proxy about how much the politics and resource of a state are safeguarding the interest of the constituent ethno-linguistic nationalities of the Indian Union, and how much they are simply in on offer on plate in the service of the New Delhi establishment. Were they a voice of Delhi in their state or were they the voice of the state when speaking to New Delhi? As stated in the basic structure of the Indian Union, just like democracy and secularism, federalism is fundamental.

A woman walks in front of a portrait of Jayalalithaa, a former film actress and now head of the state opposition party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), in the southern Indian city of Chennai March 2, 2009. India will hold a general election between April 16 and May 13, election officials said on Monday, kicking off a mammoth process in which 714 million people will be able to cast their votes. ReutersA woman walks in front of a portrait of Jayalalithaa, a former film actress and now head of the state opposition party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), in the southern Indian city of Chennai March 2, 2009. India will hold a general election between April 16 and May 13, election officials said on Monday, kicking off a mammoth process in which 714 million people will be able to cast their votes. Reuters

A woman walks in front of a portrait of Jayalalithaa, a former film actress and now head of the state opposition party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), in the southern Indian city of Chennai March 2, 2009. India will hold a general election between April 16 and May 13, election officials said on Monday, kicking off a mammoth process in which 714 million people will be able to cast their votes. Reuters

Ever since the transfer of power on 15th August 1947, the rights of the states have been continuously eroded. This has been done by continuous encroachment of the Union in state affairs, through legal and illegal methods. The favourite legal method has included constitutional amendments that have converted state list subjects into concurrent list subjects (thus giving the Union an upper hand in conflict situations), most infamously during the Emergency, when things as vital and grassroots based like education were snatched away from the state list through governments pliant and subservient to Indira Gandhi. Those changes have not been reversed. On the other side, there is not a single instance where something has been moved from the Union or concurrent list to the state list. In the extremely adverse atmosphere for federalism, against a unitary New Delhi that wants to amass power and reduce state governments to local implementation agencies for Union government policies, federalist parties (disparagingly called “regional” parties in certain media parlance, never mind that most of these “regional” parties have bigger support bases than most ruling parties of most independent countries worldwide) have always faced an uphill task. The difficulty of this task has been compounded by the fact that many “national” parties have state branches that are run by diktats from New Delhi and not by the opinion of the people of the state. New Delhi also plays a divide and rule game by giving preferential economic treatment to some federalist forces, so that a united front for federalism never emerges. This also reduces the engagement with the federalist temperament and ideology in these parties – jockeying for closeness to a “national” party that can disburse goodies becomes the principal aim. The sad situation of the Akali Dal (now the Shiromani Akali Dal), one of the original torchbearers of federalism being reduced to a BJP appendage that rarely barks and never bites, is a case in point. It is in this context that J Jayalalithaa’s contributions to federalism, has to be evaluated because it is not easy to do federalist politics in the Indian Union. All undemocratic lobbies like big media and big corporate money is stacked against it.

When the UPA 2 tried to erode state rights of law and order maintenance by its infamous National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) plan, J Jayalalithaa, along with Mamata Banerjee was in the forefront in the defence of federalism, calling out the violation of state rights that NCTC entailed. She put it succinctly, “There can be no uniform pattern in policing in the country as each state has its own distinct cultural, communal, social and economic aspects. Trying to intimidate and browbeat the states through top down structures particularly when ‘Police’ is a state subject is not acceptable. In other words, there are continuous veiled attempts by the Centre to weaken the states with too much interference which is detrimental to the national interest. Endeavoring to encroach on state powers either by creating parallel authorities monitored from the Centre or vicarious operations of state police powers through creation of Centre monitored caucuses within the states, as was envisaged in the Railway Protection Force, National Counter Terrorism Centre etc., to say the least, are contraventions of the constitutional provisions which accord the ‘Police’ priority status in the state list. The way things are evolving with the creation of the NIA and NCTC and the proposed amendments to the RPF Act and the BSF Act, we seem to be headed towards an autocracy consisting of a government of the Centre, by the Centre, for the Centre”. Its an alarm that is still relevant and we can chose to ignore it at our own peril.

Tamil Nadu is probably the worst sufferer of centralized powers of the Union government when it comes to economic matters. This industrial powerhouse produces huge revenue, much of which is grabbed by New Delhi, which then uses it to subsidize Hindi states as well as Afspa states. Almost 3 decades ago, J Jayalalithaa pointed out this undue suffering of Tamil Nadu and other Dravidian states which all suffer similarly in the hands of New Delhi as a Rajya Sabha MP as thus, “Where the northern states of India are concerned, whichever political party has been the ruling party in power at the Centre has also been the ruling party in those states all along. If no industries have been started in those northern states all these years, certainly Tamil Nadu or any of the other southern states cannot be blamed for this deplorable state of affairs. If no industries have been developed in so many districts of the northern states, that is entirely due to the gross inefficiency and glaring acts of omission of the governments of those states. Why should Tamil Nadu have to pay the penalty for this gross negligence and maladministration on the part of those north Indian state governments? Indeed, why should all the four southern states be penalised for no fault of theirs?”

In 2014, just one day after taking power in New Delhi, BJP went overdrive with its ideological Hindi imposition game plan. The Union Home Ministry passed a directive that said that officials of all ministries, departments, corporations or banks “should use Hindi” in all social media platforms. The directive said that Hindi and English can both be used but Hindi has to be “written above or first.” This slyly makes Hindi compulsory and English optional and is a naked case of Hindi imposition on non Hindi people. J Jayalalithaa, as premier of Tamil Nadu, wrote to Narendra Modi, protesting this. M Karunanidhi also lodged a strong protest. Faced with leaders who would call a spade a spade on issues of Hindi imposition, Union Home Ministry hurriedly issued a clarification that the order only applied to Hindi states. Time and again, Union ministries, especially those associated with education like MHRD and their agencies like UGC pass directives that seek to impose Hindi on non-Hindi people. In these dark moments of assault on non-Hindi people’s culture, language and identity, J Jayalalithaa has stood as a watchdog, often lodging the first protest and making sure that these Hindi imposition schemes are thwarted in her own Tamil homeland. These powers of MHRD stem from the fact that education was moved to concurrent list from state list during Emergency. In the 2016 Inter State Council meeting, J Jayalalithaa sent a note that demanded the return of education into the state list. The dangers of ‘Hindi-isation’ and ‘CBSE-isation’ of education in the Indian Union is a danger that was brought forth by the recent debate around NEET where J Jayalalithaa batted for linguistic equality, Tamil rights and for state boards.

J Jayalalithaa has on and off voiced support for a sovereign Tamil Eelam, though there has been good amount of inconsistency on this issue. One must not forget that the draconian Article 356 was imposed on the DMK government of Tamil Nadu in the wake of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination and the AIADMK did not really protest the imposition of Delhi rule on Tamil Nadu. If at all, it supported it. Nonetheless, J Jayalalithaa has made important signals for the greater Tamil nationalist cause – signifying that the Tamil national identity is something that is not limited by the confines of the Indian Union. For example, she famously declared that all seven convicts serving life sentences for their role in the conspiracy leading to Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination would be eventually released. It is probably true that these stances came from the urge to cash in on the huge surge in anger against the DMK for their inaction during the Government of India assisted decimation of the Tamil national resistance in Sri Lanka by the Sinhalese Army. Still, these were important steps that make pan Tamil solidarity politics mainstream again. Till her death, she disallowed any sports event in Tamil Nadu that had the Sri Lankan team as participant. She showed time and again that in a multi-national federal union, specific state realities have to be taken account in terms of foreign policy. This is an important lesson for the future.

During the present regime at New Delhi, she opposed the coercive federalism being practiced by the Union government when it came to implementing the National Food Security Act (NFSA) or joining UDAY (Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojna). During her long illness this year, with O.Panneerselvam and bureaucrats in charge, the Tamil Nadu government chose to bend on both NFSA and UDAY. These are ominous signs of days to come and might explain the chemistry that Jayalalithaa-less AIADMK leadership seems to be developing with the BJP.

As her final stamp on the question of federalism and state rights, she dictated Tamil Nadu’s position on GST. Tamil Nadu not only stood to lose revenue, it was also a matter of principle since after GST is implemented, a state cannot raise its own tax rates according to its own fiscal and economic realities. J Jayalalithaa rightly saw this right to change tax rates and hence change revenue generation as part of the basic structure of the constitution is so far as federal structure is a basic structure of the constitution, unchangeable by the Union parliament. Which is why, in the Rajya Sabha, the AIADMK did not vote for or against the GST bill. They walked out. Before they did, the AIADMK MP A Navaneethakrishnan said, “I would like to humbly submit that this Constitution (Amendment) Bill is not valid. It is not Constitutional because it violates the States’ fiscal autonomy….Sir, my humble submission is that democracy and federalism are the basic features of the Indian Constitution. Now, this Bill violates the basic structure of the Constitution; particularly, it encroaches upon the right of Tamil Nadu Assembly to pass laws with regard to levy of taxes. So, it is unconstitutional…My humble submission to this august House is that the Constitutional Bill is not a validly enacted law because I am of the view that this Parliament, this Council of States, has no jurisdiction or the legislative competence to enact this Constitutional Bill as it violates the federal structure of our Constitution…So, now, the proposal by the Central Government is unfair, arbitrary, unconstitutional and illegal”. That was J Jayalalithaa’s will and opinion voiced through her party MP. With the demise of J Jayalalithaa, we have lost a voice that posed a fundamental critique of the state of affairs and the state of association called the Indian Union.

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 17:34 IST

AIADMK senior functionaries urge Sasikala to lead the party

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The AIADMK on Saturday rejected reports of rift in the party and jockeying for the top post of General Secretary held by Jayalalithaa and said election will take place soon to choose her successor, amid speculation that Sasikala is the frontrunner.AIADMK Organisational Secretary C Ponnaiyan also strongly defended Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala, saying there is nothing wrong in its leaders, including Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, calling on her as she is a key member. “The party high command has taken a decision to elect a General Secretary and the election will happen soon,” he told reporters.The AIADMK twitter handle also issued a statement in favour of Sasikala.To a question related to state ministers’ recent meetings with Sasikala, he said, “Even if somebody (belonging to the party) met Sasikala Amma, what is wrong in it? Is she not an important member of the party? What you say is wrong.” Asked about reported competition for the post of General Secretary, Ponnaiyan said he had already clarified that such reports are just rumours.”There is no such thing like competition or problems…. There is nothing like this or that person competing (for the top post),” he said, adding AIADMK was a united party which has been built like a fortress by ‘Amma’.On a query about the role of Sasikala’s husband Natarajan and other family members in the party, he said “this is an unnecessary question. The party is led and guarded by over 1.5 crore members.”Drawing a distinction between government-led by AIADMK and the party organisation, he said at the party headquarters here that while the government was led by O Panneerselvam, the party was steered by elected bodies.”AIADMK is steered by party bodies, including general and executive committees and functionaries at multiple levels and Sasikala is a key member,” Ponnaiyan, who is also the party spokesperson, said.”Sasikala Amma lived with Puratchi Thalaivi Amma’s (revolutionary leader Jayalalithaa’s) last breath. Such questions are unnecessary.”Asked who the chief minister, ministers and other top officials are consulting by visiting the Poes Garden residence of the departed AIADMK supremo and if it is Sasikala, he said, “they are having a meeting with the Chief Minister there.” “It (Veda Nilayam at Poes Garden) is Amma’s house where Amma’s portrait is there…. We are in mourning and it is still not over. They are going there (also) to pay homage. It is not good to invent imaginative reasons for everything.”The party will soon elect a General Secretary who will guard the party and cadres, who follow the footsteps of Amma with godly devotion, and Tamil Nadu people,” he added.On the reported anger among some cadres against Sasikala as access was not provided to anyone to visit Jayalalithaa during her hospitalisation, he said, “It is a planned rumour and spread wantonly… blaming this or that person is a deliberate rumour.” Ponnaiyan alleged some people were propagating several “rumours” and “falsehoods” through a section of the media about who will be the next General Secretary of the party.”News being spread that this or that person may become the General Secretary are all only rumours. There is no truth in it,” he said, adding there is no “jealousy” or “competition” in AIADMK, which is like a fortress and stayed united.Ponnaiyan said AIADMK is an ideological fort with a boundless sense of unity and there was no room for questions like which person would be the General Secretary. “Only rumours are being spread and I am making this clear to you,” he said.He said though Jayalalithaa was no more, “Amma (mother, as she was fondly referred to by party cadres) continued to live as God” for them.She had built the AIADMK as a “big banyan tree” infusing discipline and a sense of unity, he said.Asked if there was a void in AIADMK in view of Jayalalithaa’s demise, he said “till such time the ‘atma’ (soul) of MGR and that of Puratchi Thalaivi guard this party, there is no scope for saying that there is a void.” On the claim that the absence of a second rung leadership was responsible for the present void, he said, “why should you imagine this? There is no such thing like an atmosphere of void.”In this party, each and every cadre is a leader. Amma made ordinary workers as MLAs and Ministers. This is a party of workers, built by them and this is the philosophy of Amma and that is being followed.”

No answer: AIADMK’s response to question on Jayalalithaa’s will

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AIADMK said on Saturday it had no answer to whether its deceased party supremo Jayalalithaa had left behind a will for her properties worth about Rs 113.72 crore. On being asked if Jayalalithaa had left behind a will, party spokesperson C Ponnaiyan told reporters, “There is no answer to this question.” He declined to say anything further.The election affidavit filed by Jayalalithaa in April this year had mentioned several assets, including her swanky Poes Garden residence in Chennai. The assets were valued at Rs 113.72 crore, including movable assets of Rs 41.63 crore and immovable assets of Rs 72.09 crore.Asked if Poes Garden would be converted into a memorial, Ponnaiyan said it would be decided by the party high command as well as the general and executive committees. Meanwhile, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and other Cabinet members paid floral tributes at Jayalalithaa’s burial site in the MGR Memorial Complex on Marina beach on Saturday.
ALSO READ AIADMK defends Sasikala, party to choose new general secretary soonVeteran CPI leader Nallakannu and CPI State Secretary R Mutharasan called on Sasikala at Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence. Later speaking to reporters, Nallakannu and Mutharasan paid tributes to their deceased leader by showering flower petals on Jayalalithaa’s portrait at her residence. State ministers and AIADMK party workers paid floral tributes to Jayalalithaa at her residence as well as her burial site on Marina beach.

AIADMK claims 280 persons died of ‘shock’ over Jayalalithaa’s demise so far

Chennai: On Saturday, the ruling AIADMK released a list of 203 deceased persons, saying they died of “shock” over the demise of party supremo and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on 5 December, taking the number of toll in this regard to 280.

The party headquarters released the list containing the names of 203 such deceased persons from different parts of the state, including Chennai, Vellore, Tiruvallore, Tiruvannamalai, Cuddalore, Krishnagiri, Erode and Tirupur districts.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The party condoled their death and announced a welfare fund of Rs three lakh each to families of the deceased.

Earlier, the party had said that 77 persons had died of shock and grief following Jayalalithaa’s death and announced a similar sum as relief to the dead persons’ families.

The number of people having died of shock over Jayalalithaa’s death stands at 280 now.

Hospitalised on 22 September and having suffered a cardiac arrest on 4 December, the 68-year-old chief minister passed away the next day.

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 14:00 IST

AIADMK will unanimously choose new party chief soon: Senior leader C Ponnaiyan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior AIADMK leader C Ponnaiyan on Saturday said that the party will unanimously choose a new chief for the party. Ponnaiyan told ANI, “Soon the party will decide a new chief to serve the people of Tamil Nadu. I think there will not be any election for this post.”He added, “The party remained united under Amma and will follow same in coming days. We’ll unanimously choose a candidate for the party.”New Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu O Panneerselvam, who assumed office following the demise of J Jayalalithaa, held a Cabinet meeting on Saturday at the State Secretariat. The meeting began at 11.30 am. Panneerselvam is expected to adopt a resolution to accord formal sanction for a suitably impressive memorial for Jayalalithaa. The Chief Minister is yet to formally take his seat in his office at the Secretariat. Panneerselvam took oath as the next Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa breathed her last at 11.30 pm on December 6 at Apollo Hospital in Chennai. The oath-taking ceremony took place at Raj Bhawan.Panneerselvam served as the Leader of Opposition during the DMK government in 2006. He has previously held the portfolio of Finance in every AIADMK government.Meanwhile, several advertisements hailing Sasikala as the successor of Jayalalithaa in the party were reportedly inserted by a section of AIADMK functionaries in Tamil evening newspapers.

Post Jayalalithaa’s death, CM Pannerselvam to chair first Cabinet meeting tomorrow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Pannerselvam, who assumed the top office after the passing away of incumbent and ruling AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa days ago, will chair the first meeting of his cabinet in Chennai on Saturday at the state secretariat.The meeting is set to begin at 11:30 am when a resolution was expected to be adopted condoling the demise of the four-time chief minister Jayalalithaa on December 5, party sources said. “Tamil Nadu Cabinet meeting tomorrow at 11:30 am. Honourable Chief Minister O Panneerselvam to chair the meet,” AIADMK said in a tweet on Friday.Jayalalithaa, 68, died after suffering a cardiac arrest at the Apollo Hospitals while undergoing treatment for ailments since September 22.The cabinet meeting comes against the backdrop of the allegation of main opposition DMK in the past more than two months that the government was “non-functional” PMK had on Dec 7 said that the government administration which was in a “limbo” in recent past should “start functioning now” with Panneerselvam at the helm.

Who will head AIADMK after Jayalalithaa’s death?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the death of its most charismatic leader, the question that is engaging the AIADMK leaders, cadre and others is who will now head the party after Jayalalithaa and whether it could be her close aide Sasikala.Filling the void may not be quite easy given the absence of a second line of leadership and the absence of any “heir” identified by the late leader, who had the party under her total command.An indication of things to come may be had from the fact that Chief Minister O Panneerselvam held two-hour long discussions with Sasikala, who is widely perceived to be a power centre in the party, more so after Jayalalithaa’s death.Sasikala’s supporters in the party claim that she should be the “natural choice,” for the post of General Secretary held by Jayalalithaa, not all others are willing to concede it. Her mentor MGR had held the post from the party’s inception in 1971 till his death in 1987. Sasikala’s supporters say that she had been Amma’s “aide, sister, friend and confidante,” for 30 years through Jayalalithaa’s “ups and downs.” With O Panneerselvam taking over as Chief Minister, she should be the “ideal choice,” they say.A senior party functionary requesting anonymity said, “go back in history and make your own inference if Amma’s loyalists and people will accept her (Sasikala).” He recalled Jayalalithaa expelling Sasikala twice from the party, once in 1996 after the AIADMK’s electoral drubbing and in 2011 months after the party wrested power again from DMK. Such factors had cast a shadow on her as a potential choice to lead the party, he said.He said Amma herself had announced in 1996 that she was distancing herself from Sasikala and her family to respect the wishes of partymen. Sasikala’s expulsion came against the background of allegations of corruption during the 1991-96 AIADMK regime. The DMK government had arrested Jayalalitha and Sasikala and filed cases against them.It was also in deference to a public perception that AIADMK was routed in the 1996 Assembly polls only because of Jayalalithaa’s association with Sasikala and her kin.In particular, the extravagant wedding of Jayalalithaa’s foster son VN Sudhakaran, since disowned, in 1995 as among the reasons for her expulsion.On December 19, 2011, Sasikala, her husband M Natarajan, and 12 others who were their close relatives were expelled from the primary membership of the party. Sasikala, who was staying with Jayalalithaa in her Poes Garden residence was also made to move out. However, on both instances, the expulsion was revoked in a matter of months and Sasikala made a comeback winning back the trust of Amma. Called “Chinnamma,” (Younger Amma) by her supporters she undoubtedly wielded significant clout in the party and continues to do so. The question is whether her role will be formalised now.Political analyst Gnani Shankaran said people knew that Sasikala was a “power centre” in AIADMK even while Jayalalithaa was alive. Asked if people would accept her as AIADMK chief, in the role previously held by Jayalalithaa, he said,”it would be known only during elections.” An AIADMK former Minister said, “we are not thinking about it now…we are in mourning…where is the hurry about all that…it is not something that can be decided by holding discussions with journalists or the media.” Without going deep into the issue, he said there are several deserving contenders in any party for any position.The question of who should be elected as General Secretary had to go through several stages at multiple levels like a general council meeting, he added. Coimbatore party workers said the western belt of Tamil Nadu (called “Kongunadu” in Tamil), “actually propelled” the prospects of party in several elections and it has senior leaders like K A Sengottaiyan and M Thambidurai from the region.While Sengottaiyan was a staunch MGR and Jayalalithaa loyalist, he stood behind Amma when she began piecing together the party after AIADMK founder chief MGR’s death in 1987, they said.Mentioning the name of Thambidurai, they said he was similarly a long-time follower of Amma, who was chosen by her for the post of Deputy Lok Sabha speaker like MGR did in 1985.Party workers from Madurai region including Theni cited names of “grassroots leaders” including Chief Minister O Panneerselvam’s name. Like the Western belt, the AIADMK has an edge over DMK in Madurai and its neighbouring districts given its core support base among the dominant caste group of Mukkulathor. Though there are other names including those belonging to the “old school” of the party like Panruti S Ramachandran, it is unlikely that their names could gain traction given the present party dynamics, they said.

Jayalalithaa’s assets: Without a will is a property war worth crores now in the offing?

Apart from the political legacy she left for posterity, former chief minister Jayalalithaa left behind a property worth Rs 90 crore and other assets worth Rs 80 crore at least.

According to a report in The Times of Indiathe AIADMK chief did not have a will announcing her apparent heir to her physical wealth.

The late chief minister and her mother Sandhya had purchased the Number 81 Veda Nilayam, Poes Garden property of 24,000 sqft area, in 1967 for an amount of Rs 1.32 lakh. But it is not yet clear if her political heir Sasikala Natrajan will continue to stay there, or niece Deepa Jayakumar and her brother Dipak may stake their claim on their grandmother’s property. Perhaps, like in the case of Jayalalithaa’s mentor MG Ramachandran whose house was stuck in legal disputes years after his death, the Chennai house too may be kept back, says the same report, even as MGR did leave a will, unlike Jayalalithaa, according to an Economic Times report.

Representational image. NewsToday

Representational image. NewsToday

In April 2015, the AIADMK supremo had declared assets worth Rs 113.73 crore, with movable assets worth Rs 41.63 crore and immovable assets worth Rs 72.09 crore. She declared an amount of Rs 41,000 as cash in hand, and 1,250 kg of silver articles valued at Rs 3,12,50,000, according to a Business Today article. She had declared commercial property and 14.5 acres of agricultural land in Hyderabad. And apart form this she had invested in five firms — Shri Jaya Publications, Sasi Enterprises, Kodanad Estate, Royal Valley Floritech Exports and Green T Estate, of which she was listed as a ‘partner.’ Furthermore, she declared that she had in possession two Toyota Prado SUVs, a Tempo Traveller, a Tempo Trax, a Mahindra Jeep, an Ambassador car of 1980 make, a Mahindra Bolero, a Swaraj Mazada Maxi, and a Contessa (1990 model), all this besides the gold that was seized in a disproportionate assets case against her.

The Times of India report has it that all of Jayalalithaa’s properties, barring her Poes Garden mansion and some inherited jewellery, could be attached to the case.

Her Chennai house was raided in 1996 by the income tax department, a year after she funded a lavish wedding for her foster son Sudhakaran, after declaring she would take a salary of only Re 1 as chief minister. The Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy had filed a disproportionate assets case against her based on the income tax report of having found 750 pairs of footwear, 10,000 sarees, 800 kg of silver, 28 kg of gold, 44 air conditioners and 91 watches at her home. Following this Jayalalithaa spent a month in jail and even vowed she would never wear jewellery again, a vow she kept up till 2011. In 2014, she was convicted again in a Karnataka court, according to a report by Economic Times.

Gold jewellery worth over Rs 6 crore continues to stay with the Karnataka treasury, and her shares in various investments also remain seized. Though the case against Jayalalithaa herself will abate, it would continue against Sasikala. “The case will have to be fought on merit, as a conviction against all accused was given in 2014, then overturned by another court in 2015, which we have now appealed against,” said former advocate general BV Acharya who represents the Karnataka government in the lawsuit. If it is proven that the property of the others accused in the case belonged to Jayalalithaa, they could be punished, and the assets seized, says a report by The Times of India.

Without a will, what follows under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, is that her assets will be divided between heirs. According to intestate rules the second Class for inheritance based on matriarchal and patriarchal relations, shall directly inherit the property. Deepa was turned away from Apollo Hospitals when she sought to meet her ailing aunt, although Dipak, who was allowed to assist in performing the last rites, may stand to have a chance, according to an article by DNA. There is also the matter of once adopted son VN Sudhakaran, who was later disowned. However, Sasikala deemed ‘dear sister’ could have the upper hand, with all of the state government backing her.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 16:33 IST

Jayalalithaa’s death: Silent marches, prayers across Tamil Nadu

Chennai: Silent processions were taken out and prayer meetings held for the third day today in several places in Tamil Nadu to condole the passing away of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. People continued to throng the MGR Memorial here, where Jayalalithaa was laid to rest, and they paid homage and offered prayers.

A woman walks in front of a portrait of Jayalalithaa. ReutersA woman walks in front of a portrait of Jayalalithaa. Reuters

A woman walks in front of a portrait of Jayalalithaa. Reuters

City Police Commissioner S George visited the site and held consultations with officials over various arrangements so that the people can pay their homage smoothly. Also, people continued to flock the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa, where she lived for over 30 years.

A sand sculpture was carved out on the Kanyakumari beach using about nine tonnes of sand where people paid homage by showering flower petals. Party cadres lighted lamps and candles before the portrait of Jayalalithaa and offered prayers at prominent locations here, Tiruchirappalli, Madurai, Coimbatore and other places across Tamil Nadu. Silent processions were taken out in places including Mamallapuram in Kanchipuram district and Kodaikanal where thousands of men and women participated.

Cadres cutting across party lines participated in the Kodaikanal silent march. AIADMK workers in Tiruchirappalli demanded that the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa be converted into a memorial.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 15:52 IST

DNA Morning Must Reads: Kin, Sasikala play games over Jaya’s wealth; Aziz says insufficient proof against Kulbhushan; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Who will inherit Jayalalithaa’s wealth? Kin, Sasikala play games over Rs 120 crore-assetsPolitical games begin between Jaya’s relatives, Sasikala. Read more.2. Insufficient proof against Kulbhushan: Sartaj AzizAfter repeatedly questioned by Senators on the progress of investigations against Jadhav and why they are not being shared with international community to fix India for destabilising Pakistan, Aziz reportedly said that additional evidence needed to be collected and that the dossier on Jadhav contained mere statements. Read more.3. Urjit Patel rap stuns India Inc, industry now eyes Union Budget for positive cuesHonchos from real estate, consumption sectors disappointed; industry now eyes Union Budget for positive cues. Read more.4. Hackers operated Rahul Gandhi, Congress Twitter handles from 5 countries: PoliceA senior police officer of the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) said that they have got to know that the IP addresses from where the accounts were accessed don’t fall under our jurisdiction. Read more.5. ‘No survivors’ after plane carrying 47 people crash in northern Pakistan mountainsAviation official says flight suffered engine problems | TV images show trail of wreckage, huge fire. Read more.

Jayalalithaa’s legacy could help Panneerselvam prevent an AIADMK meltdown

Do leaders matter in politics? This is a question that plagues the minds whenever a powerful leader, having his or her distinct personalised (autocratic) style of functioning, dies while in office. It is only natural then, that many are interested in knowing the fate of Tamil Nadu politics, economy and social equations in the wake of the demise of its celebrated chief minister Jayalalithaa.

Jayalalithaa was not an ordinary leader. She was governing a state where the cult of personality politics has been an accepted phenomenon. It may be a little harsh to describe her as autocratic, but not many will dispute the fact that her style of governance was a little imperious. In that regard, speculations on the future of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) regime in the aftermath of the death of its topmost leader is perfectly understandable.

Of course, there cannot be any satisfactory answer to a question on the degree of relevance of leaders in human history. In itself, this question has always been ‘unsettled’. On one hand, we have thinkers like Karl Marx, who argued that leaders can merely choose from options that are strictly limited by factors far beyond their control and philosophers like Tolstoy, for whom leaders are merely artefacts to “explain events completely beyond their influence.”

Thousands attended the funeral of former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa's funeral on Tuesday. PTIThousands attended the funeral of former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa's funeral on Tuesday. PTI

Thousands attended the funeral of former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa’s funeral on Tuesday. PTI

Whatever be the case, in genuine democracies, leadership transition is not a big issue as executive influence is typically moderated by independent legislative and judicial powers. On the other hand, however, there are stories of how leaders like Lenin, Roosevelt, Gandhi, Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Deng changed the history of mankind.

Be that as it may, there have been many scholarly works explaining what happens to a country when a strong leader dies. Of course, most of these studies deal with leaders who ruled a country; not a state or province as was the case with Jayalalithaa. However, lessons emerging from these studies are no less relevant in understanding the present scenario in Tamil Nadu in the aftermath of her death.

According to these studies, the consequences on the polity and economy depend on many related factors: The tenure of power of the departed leader and its stability (or lack of it); the manner of his or her coming to power (democratic elections, coup d’etat, or inherited position); the succession plan (or its absence); the resources (of the state or the country – rich or poor) and who controlled them (state-run interests, by oligarchs or by a small number of investors).

In their review of 79 authoritarian leaders (dictators) who have died in office from 1946 to 2014, Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Erica Frantiz found that a majority of the regimes persisted after the autocrats’ death. Research by Benjamin F Jones and Benjamin A Olken – spanning 1,108 different leaders from 130 countries, covering essentially every nation from 1945 to 2000 (Cancers, heart attacks, strokes, and deaths by other natural causes took sixty-five of those leaders while in office. Another twelve died in accidents fiery, watery, and even equestrian) – also led to the same conclusion. Some features of their findings are worth noting.

If an autocratic or strong leader had been in power for long, he or she leaves behind a group of trusted colleagues or inner circle elites who enjoyed power along with the leader. These old guards have vested interests, in the aftermath of the death of the leader, to coalesce around a new successor rather than engage in political bickering and infighting. Failure to do so endangers their privileged access to power. In fact, since they were long used to run the system during the rule of the departed leader, they know how to maintain the status quo and add to the resilience of the regime.

On the other hand, whoever emerges as the new leader would not like to provoke resistance from the “old guard”, because these elements know how to maintain control over the levers of power and carry on the status quo or the legacy of the departed leader by distributing benefits to citizens (populist subsidies) and promoting the party’s ideology. All told, many personalised regimes rule with the aid of a political party. The new leader, therefore, is invariably encouraged by the old guard to co-opt people from the rival parties or groups by incentivising them to participate in the system.

In more senses than one, these features are very much visible in Tamil Nadu today. Belying all sorts of apprehension, there has been a smooth succession of power. New Chief Minister O Panneerselvam was one of the prominent inner-circle elites of Jayalalithaa and he is unlikely to disturb the “old guard” or deprive them of sharing the power in a state which is quite unlike Bihar or Uttar Pradesh. Tamil Nadu’s reputation is that of a state where populism, autocratic administrations and widespread corruption (common to both the DMK and AIDMK governments) have coexisted with economic growth and human development.

All told, Tamil Nadu is one of India’s richer and better-governed states, along with Maharashtra and Gujarat. So sharing power and privilege (inequitably though) along with the leader has never been an issue. Ironically, Tamil Nadu’s economic growth and development has been greatly facilitated by its autocratic or imperious leadership (in this DMK supremo Karunanidhi is not far behind the late MG Ramachandranor or Jayalalithaa).

The ‘near-deity’ status of the leader in Tamil Nadu has resulted in a streamlined decision-making process, leading to political stability and economic progress. And as has been consistent with a body of research, a country or state with political stability and growing economy rarely finds any problem or discontent during a leadership transition. Besides, as a constituent of democratic India, Tamil Nadu’s executive head is also under some limitations imposed by an independent judiciary, let alone a vibrant media.

The moral of the story is thus clear. The risk posed by a sudden vacancy in the leadership in Tamil Nadu does not mean that it is guaranteed to see a period of instability or that it won’t improve under new leadership. Therefore, various speculations suggesting that the AIADMK will disintegrate; that the opposition DMK will form a new government with one of the breakaway factions of the ruling party; that Sasikala, the departed leader’s long-standing friend, will not allow Panneerselvam smooth functioning; and that Panneerselvam can only survive through the Central government’s support by becoming a ‘yes-man’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, may well prove to be premature.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 21:36 IST

A day later, thousands flock to Jayalalithaa’s burial spot

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after she was laid to rest near the memorial site of her political mentor M G Ramachandran at Marina beach in Chennai, thousands of people from all over Tamil Nadu continued to make a beeline to the spot to pay homage to late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.Teary-eyed party cadres and public stood in long queues to pay their homage to their beloved “Amma”. Besides, a group of people tonsured their heads as a mark of love and affection to the late AIADMK supremo, in keeping with the customary practice of tonsuring head when a close member of the family dies.Police personnel, who came in for praise from public for effectively maintaining peace in the city after Jayalalithaa’s death, were seen regulating the crowds.
ALSO READ Jayalalithaa laid to rest near mentor MGR, Prez, PM attend last ritesPopular Tamil film actor Ajith Kumar who had gone overseas for shooting of his coming film paid his respects at the burial site soon after arriving in the city along with his actress-wife Shalini.An emotional woman party cadre with a ring on her finger with a photograph of Jayalalithaa said “Amma” continues to live in the hearts of the public. Some cadres also visited ‘Veda Nilayam’, the residence at Jayalalithaa at Poes Garden.Some workers said they wished to see the residence of their favourite leader converted into a memorial as a mark of respect. 68-year-old Jayalalithaa, who died on Monday night, was laid to rest on Tuesday.

This photo of the President travelling to attend Jayalalithaa’s funeral is taking social media by storm

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A photo of President Pranab Mukherjee travelling in an India Air Force (IAF) plane to attend late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s last rites has taken social media by storm.Mukherjee on Tuesday flew to Chennai to pay his last respects, even as the plane he was travelling in had to return mid-way to Delhi due to a technical snag, before heading back to Chennai.In a photo posted by the Rashtrapati Bhavan on its official Twitter handle, Mukherjee can be seen seated on a sideways-facing bench-seat.According to reports, the President had to shift to IAF Mi-17, which is primarily a transport helicopter, to fly to Marina Beach.Even though some Twitterati wondered why the President had to travel in such discomfort, many praised Mukherjee’s noble gesture and the effort made to attend Jayalalithaa’s last rites.Earlier, remembering J Jayalalithaa from the early days of his political career, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday expressed his condolences and called her a fighter with a wonderful mastery over facts and theories.

DNA Morning Must Reads: TN’s political future without Jaya, train derailment in WB, RBI policy review & more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Post Jayalalithaa, where does Tamil Nadu’s political future lie?Jayalalithaa’s death has brought Tamil Nadu’s political arena to the crossroads. While the ruling AIADMK was generally at least five per cent ahead of its main rival DMK during MGR’s rule, and later during her reign as well, the death of the AIADMK supremo is now being seen as a great leveller. Analysts believe it could bring unexpected, windfall gains for the DMK, and bring it closer to the strength of the ruling party. Read in detailAll eyes on remonetization in RBI policy review todayThe roadmap for remonetization is what the markets are anxiously waiting to hear from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel, who has barely spoken on the subject. While the markets have factored in a 0.25% cut in repo rate, it’s the roadmap for the currency management that will be of greater interest. Read moreWest Bengal: Two dead & 6 injured in Capital Express train derailmentThe engine and two coaches of Rajendra Nagar-Guwahati Capital Express derailed at Samuktala Road near Assam-West Bengal border on Tuesday night. The Capital Express train derailment left two passengers dead and six injured, according to a statement issued by the Northeast Frontier Railway. The accident that took place around 9.15 pm. Read full storyIndonesia: Earthquake of 6.4 magnitude near Banda Aceh, several buildings collapseDozens of buildings collapsed on Wednesday in Indonesia’s northern province of Aceh, when a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck in the early hours. Social media images showed buildings reduced to rubble, fallen electricity poles, and people gathering outside at street corners. Read detailsDense fog cripples Delhi: 81 trains running late, 8 international flights delayedThe national capital woke up to a chilly Wednesday and witnessed a thick, dense blanket of fog, rendering them almost blind as visibility levels were severe, taking a toll on the morning traffic. The Met has predicted that New Delhi will continue to reel under dense fog this week. Read more

Cho Ramaswamy dead: Veteran journalist, actor, playwright passes away at 82

Veteran journalist, political analyst and comedian Cho S Ramaswamy died on Wednesday at Apollo Hospital in Chennai, said an official. He was 82.

A former member of Rajya Sabha, Ramaswamy was ailing for some time and was in the hospital where he breathed his last at around 4 am.

Cho is survived by his wife Soundara Ramaswamy, son Rajivakshan alias Sriram and daughter Sindhu, report the Times of India.

File image of . Twitter @Trending_HypersFile image of . Twitter @Trending_Hypers

File image of Cho Ramaswamy. Twitter @Trending_Hypers

The body has been shifted to his residence in Chennai and the funeral has been scheduled for Wednesday.

Ramaswamy founded and edited the political magazine Thuglak magazine and was fearless in criticising the ruling government in the state or at the centre.

Ramaswamy had personal rapport with many politicians in the country. Late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK General Secretary J Jayalalithaa was a good friend of Ramaswamy and used to seek his views.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Jayalalithaa called on him when he was seriously ill early this year.

A multi-faceted personality, Ramaswamy was a law graduate, a play writer and a stage actor. He has also directed several movies and was also a screen play writer.

Ramaswamy has acted in movies along with MG Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan, Jayalalithaa, Kamal Hassan, Rajinikant and others.

He was a member of the BRC cricket club which played in the II division of Madras Cricket Association (now Tamil Nadu Cricket Association) in the 1950’s.

Ramaswamy also practised law in the Madras High Court, 1957-63. He was a legal adviser to TTK & Co, group Companies, till 1978.

He has written, directed and acted in over 20 Tamil plays (which were performed over 5,000 times). he also acted in 180 movies, scripted 14 and directed four.

On the small screen Ramaswamy has written, acted and directed several serials in Tamil and has also written novels.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 08:59 IST

Remember Jayalalithaa’s political success, but don’t forget her corrupt legacy

It was an irony that Jayaram Jayalalithaa (her name is sometimes spelled Jayalalitha) was called the Puratchi Thalaivi (Revolutionary Leader).

Jayalalithaa behaved — and she liked to be seen as well — as a 15th Century empress who walked down the royal palace with a host of minions prostrating themselves before her. A truly revolutionary leader — even a truly democratic leader — would have come down hard on such a practice, even if her followers thought that was the only way to show respect to her; but Jayalalithaa seemed to revel in this naked display of power and encouraged it as the standard public display of loyalty. She had that unashamed streak of a feudal leader.

Like most feudal benefactors, she looked after the interest of her wards very well. The Amma Canteens and Amma Medicines have been the envy of political leaders in every other state and many state governments have devised schemes taking the cue from the Tamil Nadu experiment.

File image of Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi. Reuters

File image of Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi. Reuters

In a largely feudal society like ours, for a woman to make it big in politics needs extraordinary talent and charisma. Jayalalithaa happened to be one of the three successful women politicians of India today who went on to become chief ministers, the other two being Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati. All three happened to be unmarried, with no immediate family encumbrances to face.

Mamata’s success was on her own account. She had no godfather in politics. Mayawati had her political godfather in Kanshi Ram. Jayalalithaa was groomed by MG Ramachandran, her lead actor in several films and her mentor in Tamil Nadu politics, to be her successor. But she worked hard to step into the big shoes of a charismatic leader like MGR. But what distinguished Jayalalithaa, in a negative way, was a series of corruption charges against her. She had the dubious distinction of vacating the office of chief minister twice as the trial court found her guilty but she managed to return to office when a higher court stayed or dismissed the lower court order.

In the TANSI case, she finally got relief from the Supreme Court. But in the disproportionate assets case, the matter is pending in the Supreme Court. She came back to office as the Karnataka High Court nullified the order of the trial court that had convicted Jayalalithaa and had sent her to jail.

But there were innumerable cases of complicity in corrupt deals in which she was not legally indicted but her involvement was all over there for everyone to see. For her, the redeeming feature was that in all such deals she alone was not the accused; the accusing finger could be pointed against her fierce political rival, M Karunanidhi, the other mega star of the Tamil Nadu politics. Both the DMK and AIADMK governments helped institutionalise corruption in Tamil Nadu. And both were greatly helped with successive judicial interventions.

It was not just the government system and the two major political parties that favoured the mining mafia; the judiciary too played a part, with over hundred orders favouring private miners; there were lots of stay orders issued against cancellation of licences or actions against miners.

This indictment pointed to the plunder by the granite mining barons at Melur near Madurai in Tamil Nadu and the manner in which Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa, two political leaders at the helm of the state apparatus, facilitated the creation of an illegal mining empire in cahoots with the judiciary. Mind you, the above was not an indictment by a journalist or a social activist; it was the anguished voice of a former judge of the Madras High Court who had spoken to The Indian Express on record.

It was a sordid story. In 1990, Jayalalithaa changed the mining law of the state and allowed private mining. And there emerged a mining baron, PR Palanichami, who built an illegal empire, with the Jayalalithaa government looking the other way. Not to be left behind, the grandson of her arch rival Karunanidhi, Dayanidhi, also entered the lucrative granite business when the DMK came to power. Palanichami’s PRP Granites and Dayanidhi’s Olympus Granites became the vehicles of plunder by these two ‘beloved’ leaders of the state.

The plunder went on with impunity — with the local media also looking the other way as they were also in thrall to these larger-than-life leaders — until an RTI activist of Melur named S Murugesan filed an RTI queries in 2008 asking for information on the granite business of the PRP Group. As he did not get the answer he sought, Murugesan filed a petition in the Madras High Court.

And here comes the dubious role of certain judges of the honourable court. Justice K Chandru, a retired judge of the Madras High Court, who had heard Murugesan’s petition in the court, was candid enough to speak to The Indian Express about the corruption in the higher judiciary: “We ordered an enquiry into PRP Granites’s exports for a year and found discrepancies there too — there was a huge difference between the volume he exported and what he was permitted to mine. PRP Granites filed an appeal against the probe and another bench of the court stayed it. That stay is still on.”

With top politicians and top judges acting in unison to protect the illegal empire, the state exchequer lost a staggering Rs 16000 crore (an estimate by a daring Tamil Nadu cadre IAS officer, U Sagayam, who is supposed to have faced 24 transfers in 23 years for taking on corruption at high places.

Now, with Jayalalithaa dead and Karunanidhi battling it out in another ICU in Chennai, Tamil Nadu has entered a new phase of politics. Hopefully, it will give rise to the dawn of a new brand of politics that is corruption-free.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 08:12 IST

Amma laid to rest: Post Jayalalithaa, where does Tamil Nadu’s political future lie?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jayalalithaa’s death has brought Tamil Nadu’s political arena to the crossroads. While the ruling AIADMK was generally at least five per cent ahead of its main rival DMK during MGR’s rule, and later during her reign as well, the death of the AIADMK supremo is now being seen as a great leveller. Analysts believe it could bring unexpected, windfall gains for the DMK, and bring it closer to the strength of the ruling party.The 2016 Assembly elections already saw a close fight between the AIADMK and the DMK, with the former polling just 1 per cent more votes than the DMK. The AIADMK scraped through with 137 seats in the 234-member House (including three by-elections won recently), with the DMK coming a close second with 89 seats.In the next elections, the AIADMK will be without its main vote-catcher, Jaya, and will also lack a charismatic leader. O Panneerselvam, elected chief minister in her place, can run the government with the help of officials, but can he deliver an electoral victory, is the big question.The AIADMK will have to hope that the MGR vote-bank will be supplemented by a Jayalithaa vote-bank. Any erosion in the Jaya vote-bank could rob the party of a decisive political edge.On the other hand, the DMK is also facing a crisis as its president M Karunanidhi too is unwell (he is undergoing treatment in another hospital) and he may not be around for the next Assembly elections which are due in 2021.Karunanidhi is reluctant to hand over the party reins to his son and Leader of the Opposition, MK Stalin and is trying to bring his other son, M K Alagiri, back into the party. However, he continues to face resistance from Stalin. The party chief also has to balance family equations in the party to placate his daughter and MP, Kanimozhi, as well. The party is gripped by internal strife and rumblings in the family continue. For the DMK to successfully overtake the AIADMK, it has to showcase unity in the party. But this is still a far cry.On the national front, the BJP and the Congress are both looking for some opportunity to renew an alliance with the AIADMK. Jayalalithaa’s bold and risky stand of going it alone in the 2014 LS polls and 2016 Assembly elections may not be followed by the new dispensation in the AIADMK. It may bank on the options exercised in the past of an alliance to ensure the defeat of the DMK.This is where PM Modi will sense a chance to drive a bargain with an AIADMK which he will perceive as having been weakened considerably by the absence of Jaya.The Congress too senses an opportunity here. The AICC had appointed former AIADMK minister S Thirunavukkarasar as its party chief in Tamil Nadu a few months ago with the main objective of building bridges with the AIADMK. Now that Jayalalithaa is no more, the Congress will try to use past links with Sasikala and her husband Natarajan to revive an alliance with the AIADMK for the 2019 LS polls.The party, which drew a blank in Tamil Nadu in the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, could then hope to substantially improve its position in the next elections in 2019 and try to form the government. Tamil Nadu has always been a key state in government formation at the Centre. This is why both the principal national parties are bound to woo the AIADMK.The Left parties and the MDMK too hope that they could strike an alliance with the AIADMK for the next elections. Thus, all these parties have something to hope for with the recent turn of events in the party.All of these ifs and buts depend on Sasikala. Sasikala, who will call the shots in the government as a de facto chief minister, could also take up a key party post to enable direct intervention in party affairs and to have total command of the party. Party insiders say that Sasikala could be the next general secretary of the AIADMK. This post has now fallen vacant with the death of Jayalalithaa.Sasikala’s husband, Natarajan, could also be given a party post. This former government employee has a keen political insight, and said is to be the brain behind Sasikala. However, Jayalalithaa had kept him at a distance and would not allow him to enter her Poes Garden residence. Sasikala could now suggest that the party may make use of his services.In the past, both MGR and Jaya held both posts – that of CM and party general secretary. On Monday, the party merely elected O Panneerselvam as the Legislature Party leader for him to take over the chief ministership. The party is silent on the question of the general secretary’s post.In the past, the hand of Sasikala (who belongs to the Thevar community) was seen in some appointments (especially Thevars for important government posts or in selection of candidates for elections). This time round, she may want to play a more direct role.Analysts believe that Sasikala is likely to drive a hard bargain with both the BJP and Congress. For instance, the Disproportionate Assets case is still pending in the Supreme Court against Jayalalithaa. Sasikala, and two of her relatives, are also accused in this case.Although the case was originally filed by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption during the DMK’s rule, it was then shifted to Karnataka on a petition filed by the DMK. Thus, the appeal against the Karnataka HC judgment, setting aside the conviction of Jaya, Sasikala and others, was filed by the Karnataka government. Will the Congress chief minister in Karnataka help Sasikala in getting a clean chit from the Supreme Court? Will the BJP government at the Centre help Sasikala with regard to this case? The answers to these questions may indicate the path that the AIADMK is likely to take in the near future.The AIADMK is likely to take a stand on ties with other parties only after the SC verdict in the DA case, especially with relation to Sasikala and members of her family. Till then, the party most probably will pursue a policy of equidistance from other parties.The prospect of alliances with other minor parties in the State may also get a fresh impetus as the AIADMK may bank on a safety-first policy rather than try to take on all parties as in 2014 and 2016. In the ruling AIADMK, a sense of pragmatism and realism may determine its future policies.

Jaya funeral: Politicians, not relatives, paid last respects

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All political roads led to Chennai on December 6, as a sea of humanity, challenging the adjacent Bay of Bengal, paid their last respects to the departed leader Jayalalithaa Jayaram. President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Modi, Cong VP Rahul Gandhi, several chief ministers and celebrities from all walks of life led the nation’s mourners of different hues and shades. She was accorded a State funeral with full military honours on the Marina, the world’s second largest beach. The Madras Regiment performed the 60-gun salute.The last rites were performed – the body of the 68-year-old ‘Iron Lady’ was buried — at a spot which was part of the MGR Memorial complex, where a Jayalalithaa memorial would come up later. The body was placed in a sandalwood casket, just as for MGR. The letters Selvi J Jayalalithaa were engraved in Tamil and English. In accordance with Vaishnavite traditions to which her parents’ family belonged, it would normally be a cremation. However, Jaya chose to be buried next to her mentor, MGR, in Dravidian style.Waves and waves of mourners filed past the body, matching the waves off the Marina Beach.Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav (SP),Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik of the BJD, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan(BJP), Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal of AAP, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan (CPM), were among the chief ministers who came in person to express their condolences.The Kerala delegation included its Governor P Sathasaivam and former chief minister Oomen Chandy. TMC MPs Derek O’Brien and Kalyan Banerjee represented West Bengal chief minister Mamta Banerjee at the funeral. A delegation of the Telangana government also attended the funeral.Thousands and thousands of people, from commoners to politicians, sportsmen and exponents of fine arts, gathered at Rajaji Hall where the body was kept throughout the day for people to have a last glimpse.Jayalalithaa’s aide, Sasikala Natarajan, who shared the same roof as Jayalalithaa for nearly three decades, stood by the side of the body right from 5 a.m., at the Rajaji Hall. There was a poignant moment when PM Modi patted a weeping Sasikala on the head and shoulder, while the newly-elected Chief Minister O Panneerselvam broke down and Modi had to comfort him.The BJP made an impressive show, with Union minister Venkaiah Naidu seated next to the body and giving directions now and then, with Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan and party MP La Ganesan making several appearances, while accompanying BJP leaders to the body.The Congress, not to be outdone, had Rahul Gandhi paying his last respects at the Rajaji Hall and also participating in the funeral, while its chief minister from Karnataka, Siddaramaiah too paid his respects there. Congress leaders from Kerala and Karnataka toocame to Rajaji Hall to condole the death and on the national front senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad accompanied Rahul Gandhi.Film celebrities too thronged the venue, with Rajinikanth and his son-in-law Dhanush paying homage, as also Sivaji Ganesan’s sons Ramkumar and Prabhu, along with the letter’s son Vikram Prabhu, Prabhu Deva, Parthiban, Director Bharatiraja and lyricist Vairamuthu among others.The world of fine arts was represented by Vyjayantimala Bali, danseuse and actress, Carnatic vocalist Sudha Ragunathan and Veena Gayatri, Vice Chancellor of the Fine Arts and Music University.Former Test cricketer Krishnamachari Srikanth was there, while a large number of serving and former IAS and IPS officers, paid their last respects.Leaders of various parties too paid homage to the body at Rajaji Hall like leader of the rival DMK — MK Stalin, the Leader of Opposition in the TN Assembly and son of DMK president M Karunanidhi, Kanimozhi, party MP and Karunanidhi’s daughter, Dr Krishnasamy of Pudhiya Tamizhagam, GK Vasan, president of Tamil Maanila Congress, besides MDMK leader Vaiko and DMDK leader Vijayakanth.Women, especially from the poor and weaker sections, filed past the body in large numbers, wailing, amidst cries of Puratchi Thalaivi (Revolutionary Leader) and Amma (Mother). Many mourners carried pictures of Jaya, and gave the V sign, which represents the party’s Two-Leaves symbol.The body was taken from Rajaji Hall to the Marina in a gun carriage on which was also seated Sasikala and CM Panneerselvam. The gun carriage made a slight detour, moving across arterial Anna Salai (Mount Road) before reaching the Marina.The Jayalalithaa Memorial would come up at the spot where the funeral took place on the Marina. Thus, this section of the Marina would have three Samadhis, that of CN Annadurai, DMK founder and former chief minister, MG Ramachandran (MGR), AIADMK founder and former chief minister, and that of Jayalalithaa. It is appropriate that the Jayalalithaa Memorial would come up next to her mentor, MGR. It appears that she had confided in her aide Sasikala that she wanted her memorial next to that of her political guru and former co-star MGR.Thus, ended the last journey of Jayalalithaa, who served four terms as Chief Minister of one of India’s biggest States for four terms.At the funeral, it was Governor Vidyasagar Rao who was present, along with defence personnel, as a gun salute was accorded to Jayalalithaa. Venkaiah Naidu, Panneerselvam and the chief secretary offered flowers before the lowering of the casket. Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Akhilesh Yadav and Natarajan (Sasikala’s husband) too offered flowers.Panneerselvam maintained a low profile, with Jaya aide Sasikala and her family members clearly calling the shots in a quiet yet forthright manner. They were assisted by Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai of the AIADMK. Tamil Nadu Governor Rao was also seen co-ordinating arrangements for the State funeral.Just like Jaya projected herself as MGR’s political heir when his body was kept at Rajaji Hall and during the gun carriage procession in 1987, Sasikala subtly projected herself at Rajaji Hall this morning and during the gun carriage procession.Sasikala, in fact, performed the last rites with the assistance of a Vaishnavite priest. Her message thus was that she alone could be taken to be Jayalalithaa’s heir or legacy, whichever way one wants to look at it. At one time, Jaya called Sasikala “my sister”. She was assisted by a nephew of Jayalalithaa, Deepak Kumar.The question that always would crop up in the last 24 hours would be who will perform the last rites? Relatives brought Jaya into this world. However, 30 years ago, Jayalalithaa distanced herself from all relatives, although once or twice she did experiment by having a relative to take care of her. But she would pack them off and ultimately depended only on Sasikala to take care of her needs. A niece of Jaya was turned away from the hospital last week.Some psychologists would point out that this was one weakness for Jaya. There was no family bond, no relative to whom she could relate to, no attachment or show of affection from near and dear ones. This also could have possibly led to the deterioration of health as she missed monitoring by a relative. There was no relative at her funeral too, barring a young nephew. Perhaps, he too would have been brought in merely to satisfy a traditional requirement as Jaya was a strong believer in religious and orthodox practices, despite her modern outlook.However, unlike many politicians and rulers in the country who suffer from damage caused by relatives, Jaya carried no such baggage. In fact, she turned this to her advantage saying she did not have to work for relatives. As she would say I have no relatives — “All I have is you people”.

Amma no more: ‘Her passing away has caused irreparable loss to nation,’ says Vidyasagar Rao

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao condoled the death of J Jayalalithaa describing her a charismatic leader and people’s chief Minister. “I am deeply shocked and grieved to hear about the sad demise of Selvi J Jayalalithaa, the charismatic leader and the people s Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu,” Rao said. “She stood as a symbol of dynamism, bravery and was known for her sagacity and sharp intellect. Affectionately called as ‘Amma’, she was an embodiment of womens empowerment and filled with indefatigable spirit. She was known for her noble qualities and sacrificed her life for the cause of the poor and downtrodden,” a Raj Bhavan statement quoted Rao as saying.”Selvi J Jayalalithaa has struggled for more than two months in the hospital and fought the death valiantly with her indomitable will power. It is sad that clutches of death have snatched away the life of the leader of masses,” the release said. “I fondly remember the day she received me at the Chennai Airport when I came to assume office as Governor of Tamil Nadu. Her affectionate gesture and kind words are still afresh in my memory,” the release quoting Rao said further.”Her passing away has caused an irreparable loss to the nation in general and to Tamil Nadu in particular. I express my sincere condolences from the bottom of my heart to the people of Tamil Nadu and pray to God to rest her soul in peace,” he said.

Jayalalithaa buried with full state honours; Mukherjee, Modi pay homage

Chennai: Lakhs of grieving men and women bid a tearful adieu to J Jayalalithaa, the charismatic chief minister who held sway over Tamil Nadu politics for more than three decades with a pro-poor image, as the AIADMK supremo was buried with full state honours on Tuesday.

PTIPTI

Jayalalithaa was buried with full state honours on Tuesday. PTI

President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Union minister Venkaiah
Naidu, chief minister O Panneerselvam and his counterparts from several states, governor Vidyasagar Rao, DMK leader MK Stalin and superstar Rajnikanth were among the dignitaries who paid homage at Rajaji Hall where the body of 68-year-old Jayalalithaa lay in state since early morning.

Sasikala Natarajan, the close confidante of Jayalalithaa for over three decades, was beside the body throughout the day and later conducted the religious rituals before the sandalwood casket was lowered at a site close to MGR memorial on the shores of Marina beach. She was assisted by Jayalalithaa’s nephew Deepak in performing the last rites.

No sooner had the brief rituals concluded at around 6 pm, the casket carrying the mortal remains of the six-time chief minister was lowered after a gun salute amid emotional chants of ‘Amma Vazhga’ (Long Live Amma) by a sea of humanity which had converged at the burial site.

Various leaders including Naidu, Rao, Gandhi, leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Paneerselvam, speaker Dhanapal and former governor K Rosiah placed wreaths at the feet of the body that was draped in a silk saree in her favourite green colour, and a sandalwood garland placed around her neck.

Earlier, thousands of people hailing “Puratchi Thalaivi Amma” (Revolutionary Leader Amma) walked with the cortege that
was part of a military convoy in which her coffin was carried, wrapped in the national flag and covered with flowers. Amid heavy security cover, the funeral procession made steady progress to the destination, a distance of three kilometres from Rajaji Hall in the government estate, passing through Madras University and the burial site opposite the British-era iconic PWD building.

Big photographs of Jayalalithaa, an actor-turned-politician, were placed all around the coffin even as people showered the hearse with flowers, as Sasikala accompanied the body.

With the central government ordering a state funeral, personnel from the three armed forces paid their respects and gave a guard of honour before Sasikala conducted the last rites with the aid of a Brahmin priest.

The rituals include sprinkling of water, offering of rice, showering of flower petals and sandalwood pieces. Jayalalithaa, a spinster who never shied away from flaunting her religious identity and beliefs, was surprisingly buried and not cremated. She was laid to rest by the side of her mentor and actor-turned-politician MG Ramachandran, a former chief minister.

Lakhs of people had packed the area around Rajaji Hall where men and women wept in grief as they attempted to reach the body of their “amma” (mother).

The mortal remains of Jayalalithaa was earlier taken from her Poes Garden residence to Rajaji Hall, hours after she died at a private hospital late last night after battling for life for 75 days.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 23:09 IST

Jayalalithaa passes away: Corporate India condoles demise of former Tamil Nadu chief minister

New Delhi: Condoling the demise of Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, Corporate India on Tuesday said the country has lost a visionary, dynamic and inspiring leader.

CII president Naushad Forbes said that during her tenure, industry in Tamil Nadu had progressed remarkably well and the Vision 2023 launched by her was a landmark initiative towards ensuring inclusive and equitable growth in the state.

Former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa. AFPFormer Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa. AFP

Former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa. AFP

Ficci said the Indian industry is deeply saddened by the demise of the Tamil Nadu chief minister, who will be
remembered for making “relentless efforts” for the state’s economic progress.

“Jayalalithaa was an extraordinary political leader who made relentless efforts for the economic progress of the Tamil Nadu and single-handedly conceptualised the vision document Vision 2023 Tamil Nadu, setting the plan for infrastructure development for the state,” the chamber said in a statement.

Her connect with the people, concern for wellbeing of the poor, the women and marginalised will always be a source of inspiration and be cherished for years, it said.

“We share our deepest condolences with her family and the people of Tamil Nadu. Selvi Jayalalithaa was a visionary leader and will continue to inspire us in Indian industry. Her absence in the Indian Polity will create a void that would be very difficult to fill,” said Ficci president Harshavardhan Neotia.

“During her tenure as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, the state has transformed and retained its leadership position as the most favoured investment destination in India with the presence of diverse industries,” said Ramesh Kymal, chairman, CII Tamil Nadu State Council.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 21:25 IST

How Jayalalitha’s administrative skills helped Tamil Nadu recover from tsunami nightmare

An “enigmatic woman”, a “shy actor”, the “astute politician”, the “iron lady”, a “beloved leader”: The late AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa has earned many such monikers through her work as six-time Tamil Nadu chief minister. She was a fighter, so much so that she managed to hold together a disillusioned and broken party in the post-MG Ramachandran era, single-handedly around her cult. However, it was her efforts following the tsunami that shook Tamil Nadu on 26 December, 2004, that best highlighted her administrative skills.

Tamil Nadu villagers. ReutersTamil Nadu villagers. Reuters

Jayalalitha announced that 14,364 houses would be built in 444 villages along coastal Tamil Nadu. Reuters

The tsunami left over 9,300 people dead and many more homeless in India, Sri Lanka and South-East Asia. In Chennai, the death toll was 131; Nagapattinam was worst-hit with 788 deaths, and in Kanyakumari, around 392 people died, according to a report by The Hindu. The earthquake off the coast of Sumatra that caused the tsunami was recorded at a magnitude of 8.9 by the United States Geological Survey. It caused buildings in lands as far away as Thailand, Bangladesh and Singapore to sway.

Jayalalithaa announced a Rs 153.37 crore relief package, divided into a general package and a separate one for fishermen. Families would get Rs 1 lakh as compensation for every member lost, along with one dhoti, one sari, two bedsheets, 60 kg of rice, three litres of kerosene, and Rs 1,000 in cash for groceries. Furthermore, Rs 1,000 was to be given for purchase of utensils, Rs 2,000 so they could put up accommodation. Per family, and there were about one lakh families in all, the package would cost about Rs 5,000. The fishermen also recieved an extra Rs 65 crore meant to cover gill nets and boats, according to another report by The Hindu.

Once the state tsunami relief fund of Rs 1,000 crore was exhausted, she wrote to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking for a donation of Rs 1,120 from the National Contingency Fund, according to The Telegraph.

It was only a matter of hours before Nagapattinam had its power supply back. With the state working on disaster management for over seven years, response time had been reduced significantly; mobile cranes and ambulances were on patrol. The government entrusted district administration with rehabilitation of affected families, and when they were found to be incompetent, she reshuffled or sacked officers immediately, according to a report on Rediff.

A report by NDTV says that Jayalalithaa drew up the Emergency Tsunami Rehabilitation Scheme in 2005, according to which 14,364 houses would be built for 444 villages along coastal Tamil Nadu, the ones most severely affected by the tsunami.

She called on Manmohan Singh again, urging the prime minister to house the tsunami warning centre in Chennai in the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), as it would be psychologically reassuring to the coastal population. She cited the 50 seismic disturbances that had taken place in TN, including seven severe and very severe cyclonic storms in 50 years leading up to 2005, according to The Hindu.

Jayalalithaa even extended help to the Sri Lankan government by instating officers to guide the island nation in the process of rehabilitation, according to Deccan Chronicle quoting state revenue minister RB Udhayakumar. After China and Pakistan denied help to Sri Lanka, Colombo looked to Jayalalithaa for assistance. And she responded.

Her administrative style was uncompromising, whether it was banning the sale of gutkha, or mandatory installation of rainwater harvesting systems, but, she got things done on time without any ifs or buts, as was seen with the tsunami relief, ensuring people remembered not the ruthlessness of her tenure, but the help it gave them.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 19:20 IST

DNA Evening Must Reads: Jayalalithaa buried next to mentor MGR, Russia protests against India’s cash crunch and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1) Live | Amma no more: Jayalalithaa buried next to mentor MGROver two tonne of flowers from several destinations were used by about 40 workers who worked for 10 hours to prepare the Army truck and gun carriage for the final journey of Jayalalithaa. Thousands came out on the streets to pay their last respects and have a last glimpse of their leader popularly known as Amma. Jayalalithaa, who died of a massive cardiac arrest late Monday evening, was buried next to the memorial of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) founder and her mentor MG Ramachandran at Marina beach. Read more…2) Amma no more: O Panneerselvam breaks down as PM pays floral tributes to JayaAn inconsolable Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam hugged Narendra Modi emotionally on a couple of occasions as the Prime Minister approached the casket containing Jayalalithaa’s body to pay his last respects. The atmosphere was surcharged as Modi, amid tight security, walked into Rajaji Hall, where the AIADMK supremo’s body is lying in state. As he walked towards Panneerselvam after placing a wreath near the body, the latter broke down and hugged him. Read more…3) Sushma Swaraj’s kidney transplant likely this weekend, donor unrelatedExternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is expected to undergo a kidney transplant at AIIMS this weekend, with the organ being harvested from a living unrelated donor. “Living unrelated donor could be anyone who is emotionally attached to the recipient, such as friend, a relative, a neighbour or an in-law. As no suitable donor was available in the immediate family, the transplant will be done with the kidney from a living unrelated donor. “As of now the transplant is scheduled to take place this weekend. The clearance from the authorisation committee has been obtained,” sources at AIIMS said, adding Sawaraj’s pre-transplant process was complete. Read more…4) No plan to impose tax on jewellery, farmers’s produce: Ravi Shankar PrasadUnion Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that there was no plan to impose tax on farmers for their produce or on women for their jewellery. Addressing a rally in Nainital as part of the BJP’s ongoing parivartan yatra, Prasad said the country was moving towards a cashless economy under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose demonetization move had made the rich bow to poor for the first time in the country. Read more…5) Demonetization: Russia lodges protest, says cash shortage affecting working of its MissionRussia has strongly protested with India on cash shortage affecting the working of its Mission after demonetization, and wants a quick resolution of the issue, failing which it may explore other options including summoning Indian diplomat in Moscow. In a letter, Russian Ambassador Alaxander Kadakin has raised the issue of diplomats not being able to withdraw enough money hampering the normal functioning of the mission and sought intervention of the External Affairs Ministry so that the withdrawal restrictions for diplomatic staff are lifted. Read more…

Jayalalithaa’s demise: Three die of shock in Coimbatore; two attempt suicide

Coimbatore: Three persons died, apparently due to shock, while two cases of suicide attempts were also reported from Coimbatore district on Monday evening after news of Jayalalithaa’s deteriorating health spread.

Image used for representational purposes only. ReutersImage used for representational purposes only. Reuters

Image used for representational purposes only. Reuters

In Singanallur, a 65-year-old painter complained of chest pain while watching television news on Jayalalithaa’s health in his house. Before he could be taken to the hospital, he passed away, police said.

In another incident, Palaniammal (62) of Thudiyalur, died of shock after watching the TV news in her house on Monday afternoon. Similarly, a 38-year-old load worker, Raja, collapsed on the chair while watching the news in Erode. Though his wife called for assistance, the 108 crew of emergency service declared him dead on arrival, police said.

Meanwhile, one person, identified as Loganathan, attempted suicide by jumping from a 50-foot-tall mobile tower in Kuniamuthur in the early hours of Tuesday. However, police reached the spot and managed to bring him down, before letting him off with a stern warning.

In another such incident, a 45-year-old AIADMK worker, Ramachandran, attempted self-immolation near Annur. With 60 percent burns, he is being treated at the Government Hospital, police added.

Jayalalithaa passed away at Apollo Hospital in Chennai after waging a grim battle for life since her hospitalisation on 22 September.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 16:07 IST

Jayalalithaa’s demise: Three deaths, two suicide attempts in Coimbatore

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three persons died apparently due to shock and two cases of suicide attempts were reported from the district after the news of Jayalalithaa’s deteriorating health spread last evening, police said on Tuesday.In Singanallur, a 65-year-old painter complained of chest pain while watching television news on Jayalalithaa’s health in his house on Monday.However, he died before being taken to the hospital, police said.In another incident, Palaniammal (62) of Thudiyalur, died of shock after watching the TV news in her house yesterday afternoon, they said.Similarly, a 38-year-old load worker, Raja of Erode, collapsed on the chair, while watching the news channel.
ALSO READ Jayalalithaa had wonderful mastery over facts and theories: President MukherjeeThough his wife called for assistance, the 108 crew of emergency service declared him dead on their arrival, police said.Meanwhile, one Loganathan attempted suicide by jumping down from a 50-foot tall mobile tower in Kuniamuthur in the early hours.
ALSO READ Shops closed, streets deserted: Chennai comes to grinding halt after Jayalalithaa’s demiseHowever, police reached the spot and managed to bring him down, before letting him off with a stern warning.In second such incident, a 45-year-old AIADMK worker, Ramachandran attempted self-imolation near Annur last night.
ALSO READ All you need to know about J JayalalithaaWith 60 per cent burns, he is being treated at the Government Hospital here, police added.Jayalalithaa passed away at the Apollo Hospitals in Chennai last night after waging a grim battle for life since her hospitalisation on September 22.

Watch: Jayalalithaa takes on Karan Thapar in hard-hitting 2004 BBC interview

Tens of thousands of mourners filed past the coffin of Jayaram Jayalalithaa (her name is sometimes spelled Jayalalitha) on Tuesday in an emotional farewell to the former movie star who enjoyed almost god-like status in the state of Tamil Nadu.

The 68-year-old Jayalalithaa, described by her party as the Iron Lady, died late Monday after suffering a massive cardiac arrest at the weekend following a long period of ill health.

File image of J Jayalalithaa. AFPFile image of J Jayalalithaa. AFP

File image of J Jayalalithaa. AFP

Despite being twice jailed over allegations of corruption, the woman known by Tamils simply as Amma, or mother, was a revered figure in her southern fiefdom and one of India’s most popular and successful politicians as a populist champion of the poor.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew into the state capital Chennai to pay his own respects, streams of her supporters lined up outside a hall in the centre of the city where her casket was put on display.

Jayalalithaa had earned the loyalty of many voters with a series of populist schemes, including “Amma canteens” that provided lunch for just three rupees (five cents) and vast election-time giveaways that ranged from laptops to kitchen appliances.

Back in 2004 — following some of her most turbulent years in politics — Jayalalithaa sat down with Karan Thapar for an interview for BBC World’s HARDtalk India. What followed was one of her strongest interviews providing an insight into the mind of the phenomenon called as Amma.

Here are a few excerpts:

Jayalalithaa tells Thapar how she felt the media was against her from the start, how she considers herself an unconventional politician and how she thinks she’s often misunderstood.

“I prefer to play straight and I prefer speaking the truth. If I appear to be blunt, so be it. Yes, I am misunderstood and the media have a large part to play in this,”she says in the interview.

Things get heated up when Thapar brings up her arrest, vendetta politics and her rival M Karunanidhi.

“It was not vengeance. He was involved in a corruption case,” she says discussing the arrest of Karunanidhi who was 77 years old at the time.

She also refuses to discuss Sonia Gandhi saying she has the right to reject any questions.

When Thapar questions her superstition, Jayalalithaa initially denies it, but then goes on to say that she regrets agreeing to do the interview.

“I’m a perfectly rational, sensible, sober, very responsible leader. I can say with confidence that no other chief minister in Tamil Nadu’s history has worked so hard for the development and progress of the state as I have been doing and as I am doing,” she continues.

And finally, when concluding the interview, Thapar says it was a pleasure talking to her and extends his hand, she replies saying, “I must say it wasn’t a pleasure talking to you. Namaste,” concluding without shaking his hand

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 15:38 IST

Jayalalithaa dead: Amma’s populist policies leave a debt bomb ticking in TN

The word, ‘Amma’ (mother) is used six times in Tamil Nadu’s 2016-17 budget document, presented by finance minister O Panneerselvam on 21 July, the adjective Puratchi Thalaivi is used once and references to ‘chief minister’ 31 times.

Just like the verses of scriptures typically begins with a prayer to the cosmic force, Panneerselvam, appears to offer prayers to the AIADMK supreme leader often in the budget speech, thus making the whole 86 page budget document a humble submission at the feet of his and his party men’s supreme ‘mother’.

File photo of Jayalalithaa. PTIFile photo of Jayalalithaa. PTI

File photo of Jayalalithaa. PTI

A quick glance through Panneerselvam’s 2016-17 budget document reaffirms Jayalalithaa’s iconic, cult status. Terms like, “unparalleled”, “unflinching” “historic”, “infinite love”, “affection” are used to describe Mother Jayalalithaa, who died on Monday night at Apollo hospital in Chennai, while serving her sixth term as the chief minister.

Perhaps, in these times, there is no other Indian state as TN where political leaders enjoy blind devotion of their followers, mostly the poor strata of the society. For most part of her life, Jayalalithaa carried the stature of a demigod, first as an actress and later as a politician, universally admired by her followers as ‘mother’, before whom they never shy to prostrate. For them she was never human.

Most of the social welfare schemes in TN are named after her — ‘Tamil Nadu Village Habitation Improvement’ (THAI) scheme (‘Thai’ in tamil means mother), “Amma Unavagam” (subsidised food), Amma Kudineer (drinking water scheme), Amma laptops, ‘Amma Baby Care Kit’,‘Amma Magapperu Sanjeevi’ and ‘Amma Arogiya Thittam’. There are a number of such schemes that carry her name. People adore those products/services as mother’s blessings, thus melting the thin line between political populism and insane, often blind personality-driven politics.

The populist bandwagon

How did Jayalalithaa win the hearts of poor? To say the least, she was also the ‘mother’ of all freebie schemes that ensured the support of middle and lower-income class in multiple areas. To be sure, some of these were transformative in nature in the areas of education, housing and aiding small entrepreneurs.

Certain examples include the World Bank-aided ‘Pudhu Vaazhvu Project launched in 2005.  Under this scheme, which the government claims to have given job-oriented skill training to 3.27 lakh youth. The THAI scheme, so far implemented in 71,126 habitations pertaining to 9,511 village panchayats and the housing scheme under which in the last four years, the Tamil Nadu Housing Board has constructed 10,059 units at a cost of Rs 565.92 crore, including 2,293 houses for the low income group.

‘Amma’ is also known for her investor-friendly approach, which explains the reason why the state is home to more industries and employment than any other Indian state, according to IndiaSpend research. TN is also home to a small-sector movement with the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector providing employment to 63.18 lakh persons.

No doubt. Jayalalithaa has been an able administrator. This is evident from the progress made by the state in the areas of poverty eradication, social welfare, investor-friendly measures and overall economic numbers. TN’s Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), which fell to 3.4 percent in real terms, during 2012-13, was reversed to 7.3 percent towards 2013-14 — higher than the national average growth rate of 4.7 percent of that period.

The state recorded a GSDP growth rate of 8.8 percent in 2015-16 as against the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 7.6 percent, based on the 2011-12 constant prices. The gross fixed capital formation, which indicates the investment activity too has improved significantly, touching Rs 34,091 crore in the fiscal year 2014 compared with Rs 23,054 crore when her predecessor, M Karunanidhi left office in 2010-11.

A TN debt-bomb in making?

But, in the process of rolling out freebies, she also built a debt bomb for the state. At this point, TN’s debt is over Rs 2 lakh crore. But, according to an IndiaSpend analysis, TN’s debt has witnessed a 92 percent increase over five years ending 2015. According to the Reserve Bank data, TN registered the highest gross fiscal deficit among all states in 2015-16 at Rs 31,830 crore. For current fiscal the TN government pegged its fiscal deficit at Rs 40,534 crore or  2.96 of GSDP.

In the last five years, when Jayalalithaa was in office, the debt level of Tamil Nadu has risen 105 percent from Rs 1.14 lakh crore to Rs 2.35 lakh crore. This is the sharpest increase in debt levels by a large state.

Of all Indian states, only Haryana has beaten TN with a 141 percent rise in public debt. It is needless to say most of this debt is the consequence of Jayalalithaa’s populist bandwagon aiming at the poor of the state. Other large industrial states like Maharashtra and Gujarat have seen their debt level increasing by a relatively better 64.5 percent and 60.3 percent in the same period.

There is no impressive trend in tax revenue correspondingly. According to 2016-17 TN budget, the tax revenue is estimated to increase to Rs 90,691.87 crore in revised budget estimates for 2016-2017 from Rs.86,537.70 crore as per the revised estimates 2015-2016.

For TN, ‘Amma’ leaves an era of political populism and a debt bomb in making. Amma’s presence will still be felt in the TN cabinet meetings through her image and the memories of her charismatic leadership. But, the task of dealing with the debt bomb in making is up to her trusted lieutenant O Panneerselvam and his AIADMK colleagues.

(Kishor Kadam contributed to this story)

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 15:08 IST

Jayalalithaa dead: How Amma’s populist policies left a debt bomb ticking in TN

The word, ‘Amma’ (mother) is used six times in Tamil Nadu’s 2016-17 budget document, presented by finance minister O Panneerselvam on 21 July, the adjective Puratchi Thalaivi is used once and references to ‘chief minister’ 31 times.

Just like the verses of scriptures typically begins with a prayer to the cosmic force, Panneerselvam, appears to offer prayers to the AIADMK supreme leader often in the budget speech, thus making the whole 86 page budget document a humble submission at the feet of his and his party men’s supreme ‘mother’.

File photo of Jayalalithaa. PTIFile photo of Jayalalithaa. PTI

File photo of Jayalalithaa. PTI

A quick glance through Panneerselvam’s 2016-17 budget document reaffirms Jayalalithaa’s iconic, cult status. Terms like, “unparalleled”, “unflinching” “historic”, “infinite love”, “affection” are used to describe Mother Jayalalithaa, who died on Monday night at Apollo hospital in Chennai, while serving her sixth term as the chief minister.

Perhaps, in these times, there is no other Indian state as TN where political leaders enjoy blind devotion of their followers, mostly the poor strata of the society. For most part of her life, Jayalalithaa carried the stature of a demigod, first as an actress and later as a politician, universally admired by her followers as ‘mother’, before whom they never shy to prostrate. For them she was never human.

Most of the social welfare schemes in TN are named after her — ‘Tamil Nadu Village Habitation Improvement’ (THAI) scheme (‘Thai’ in tamil means mother), “Amma Unavagam” (subsidised food), Amma Kudineer (drinking water scheme), Amma laptops, ‘Amma Baby Care Kit’,‘Amma Magapperu Sanjeevi’ and ‘Amma Arogiya Thittam’. There are a number of such schemes that carry her name. People adore those products/services as mother’s blessings, thus melting the thin line between political populism and insane, often blind personality-driven politics.

The populist bandwagon

How did Jayalalithaa win the hearts of poor? To say the least, she was also the ‘mother’ of all freebie schemes that ensured the support of middle and lower-income class in multiple areas. To be sure, some of these were transformative in nature in the areas of education, housing and aiding small entrepreneurs.

Certain examples include the World Bank-aided ‘Pudhu Vaazhvu Project launched in 2005.  Under this scheme, which the government claims to have given job-oriented skill training to 3.27 lakh youth. The THAI scheme, so far implemented in 71,126 habitations pertaining to 9,511 village panchayats and the housing scheme under which in the last four years, the Tamil Nadu Housing Board has constructed 10,059 units at a cost of Rs 565.92 crore, including 2,293 houses for the low income group.

‘Amma’ is also known for her investor-friendly approach, which explains the reason why the state is home to more industries and employment than any other Indian state, according to IndiaSpend research. TN is also home to a small-sector movement with the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector providing employment to 63.18 lakh persons.

No doubt. Jayalalithaa has been an able administrator. This is evident from the progress made by the state in the areas of poverty eradication, social welfare, investor-friendly measures and overall economic numbers. TN’s Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), which fell to 3.4 percent in real terms, during 2012-13, was reversed to 7.3 percent towards 2013-14 — higher than the national average growth rate of 4.7 percent of that period.

The state recorded a GSDP growth rate of 8.8 percent in 2015-16 as against the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 7.6 percent, based on the 2011-12 constant prices. The gross fixed capital formation, which indicates the investment activity too has improved significantly, touching Rs 34,091 crore in the fiscal year 2014 compared with Rs 23,054 crore when her predecessor, M Karunanidhi left office in 2010-11.

A TN debt-bomb in making?

But, in the process of rolling out freebies, she also built a debt bomb for the state. At this point, TN’s debt is over Rs 2 lakh crore. But, according to an IndiaSpend analysis, TN’s debt has witnessed a 92 percent increase over five years ending 2015. According to the Reserve Bank data, TN registered the highest gross fiscal deficit among all states in 2015-16 at Rs 31,830 crore. For current fiscal the TN government pegged its fiscal deficit at Rs 40,534 crore or  2.96 of GSDP.

state debt tablestate debt tableIn the last five years, when Jayalalithaa was in office, the debt level of Tamil Nadu has risen 105 percent from Rs 1.14 lakh crore to Rs 2.35 lakh crore. This is the sharpest increase in debt levels by a large state.

Of all Indian states, only Haryana has beaten TN with a 141 percent rise in public debt. It is needless to say most of this debt is the consequence of Jayalalithaa’s populist bandwagon aiming at the poor of the state. Other large industrial states like Maharashtra and Gujarat have seen their debt level increasing by a relatively better 64.5 percent and 60.3 percent in the same period.

There is no impressive trend in tax revenue correspondingly. According to 2016-17 TN budget, the tax revenue is estimated to increase to Rs 90,691.87 crore in revised budget estimates for 2016-2017 from Rs.86,537.70 crore as per the revised estimates 2015-2016.

For TN, ‘Amma’ leaves an era of political populism and a debt bomb in making. Amma’s presence will still be felt in the TN cabinet meetings through her image and the memories of her charismatic leadership. But, the task of dealing with the debt bomb in making is up to her trusted lieutenant O Panneerselvam and his AIADMK colleagues.

(Kishor Kadam contributed to this story)

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 15:08 IST

Jayalalithaa had wonderful mastery over facts and theories: President Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Remembering late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa from the early days of his political career, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday expressed his condolences and said that she was a fighter having a wonderful mastery over facts and theories.The President recalled Jayalalithaa entering into the Rajya Sabha when he was the Leader of the House around early 1980’s.”On many occasions I had interactions with her on all subjects concerning development and administration. She had a wonderful mastery over facts and theories,” he said ahead of his departure to Chennai, where he will pay his last respects to Jayalalithaa.Asserting that she was a fighter who fought till her last breath, President Mukherjee further said that she fought against the cruelty of disease and suffering. “All other battles she won, but perhaps everybody has to lose one battle and she has lost that,” he said.Meanwhile, both houses of the Parliament have been adjourned for the day after paying obituary to Jayalalithaa. The Central Government has declared a one-day mourning after the demise of Jayalalithaa, who passed away last night at the Apollo Hospitals in Chennai.Tributes are being paid to Jayalalithaa at Rajaji Hall in Chennai where her mortal remains have been kept. Preparations are currently underway at MGR Memorial at Marina beach, Chennai, for her last rites where she will be cremated with full state honours at 4:30 pm on Tuesday.

Jayalalithaa dead: Her legendary appeal drove her followers to self-immolation, amputation

In 2004, R Rathinam, a head constable in the Tamil Nadu Police cut three fingers of his left hand and offered them in the hundi at a temple in his native Salem district. Rathinam did that in the belief that the sacrifice will bring victory to J Jayalalithaa’s (her name is sometimes spelled Jayalalitha) AIADMK in the Lok Sabha elections that year and win 40 out of 40 seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

That did not happen. But Rathinam’s act caught Jayalalithaa’s eye. She had him admitted to Apollo Hospitals for 27 days and took care of his treatment.

But she was not amused by what Rathinam did.

, who offered three fingers from his left hand at a temple in exchange for the AIADMK's success in the 2014 General Election. Firstpost/TS Sudhir

R Rathinam, who offered three fingers from his left hand at a temple in exchange for the AIADMK’s success in the 2014 General Election. Firstpost/TS Sudhir

“Being in the police service, you should not have done this. This time I forgive you but you should not do this ever again,” she told Rathinam.

But that was hardly a deterrent. On 27 September, 2016, five days after Jayalalithaa was admitted to hospital, Rathinam went on an emotional trajectory yet again. Now retired, the 68-year-old immolated himself in front of Salem collectorate after shouting ‘Long Live Amma’. He was saved just in the nick of time. Rathinam breaks down, recounting the days when he was in charge of the security detail when MG Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa were shooting for the Tamil film Adimen Penn.

“I used to be a Sivaji Ganesan fan but after seeing the two act, I became their fan for life,” says Rathinam — a pointer to the role Kollywood has played in building political careers.

It is tough to explain this kind of irrational behaviour where grown-up men and women harm themselves for the sake of a relationship. It is based only on the connect they feel with the person — a connect that is based primarily on what they feel for the leader, floored by what they perceive she has done for them. Over the years, Jayalalithaa has gained from the very pro-poor welfare agenda she crafted.

At a psychological level, this is also because of the ‘queen/king and subject’ relationship that leaders like Jayalalithaa developed with the people of Tamil Nadu.

Where the people and her admirers in particularly felt obligated that they had Jayalalithaa as their “kind patron” and someone who would look after them.

This, despite having zero access to her but even a glimpse would send them into raptures. They would chase Jaya TV reporters to give interviews, fawning over Amma in the hope that she would catch them on TV. AIADMK is a party whose cornerstone is servility and absolute unquestioned love and affection for the supreme leader. Over the years, its leaders have also converted it into an act, realising that it works. It has contributed to the cult-building around Amma. Which is why leaders tried to outdo in organising mega prayer functions, with men, women and even children piercing their tongues as a way of subjecting themselves to pain for the sake of their leader.

Take for instance karate instructor Shihan Hussaini, who crucified himself on a cross in 2014 after Jayalalithaa was sent to prison in Bengaluru in the Disproportionate Assets case. Hussaini had made a portrait of Jaya using his frozen blood in 2013 to mark her birthday.

20161206_071527

Shihan Hussaini, who crucified himself on a cross in 2014 after Jayalalithaa was sent to prison in Bengaluru. Firstpost/TS Sudhir

Again an act that did not go down well with Jayalalithaa. But the fact that such sycophantic gimmicks helped get an audience with the supreme leader became an incentive for many more to indulge in extreme behaviour.

Travel to any AIADMK functionary’s home and you will certainly find Jayalalithaa’s photograph kept alongside portraits of deities. All male activists and leaders carry her photograph in their shirt pocket.

At the Rajaji Hall in Chennai where Jayalalithaa’s body was kept for people to pay homage, I meet Ponnusamy from Virrudhunagar in south Tamil Nadu. He wears two oversized rings on his fingers, one with a picture of MGR and the other carrying a picture of Jayalalithaa. That has earned him the name of Modram (ring) Ponnusamy. It is clear that the likes of O Panneerselvam and Sasikala who will control the government and party are stepping into oversized shoes.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 13:09 IST

Jayalalithaa dead: Funeral at 4.30 pm on Chennai’s Marina Beach with full state honours

Things progressed pretty fast after 12.15 am on Tuesday when Apollo Hospitals confirmed the demise of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa (her name is sometimes spelled Jayalalitha).

One of India’s most charismatic political leaders, Jayalalithaa breathed her last after a bitter 74-day battle for life, ending an era in Tamil Nadu politics and plunging the state in deep grief. She was 68. A spinster, Jayalalithaa died after she suffered a cardiac arrest that derailed the halting progress she had been making on the health front.

“It is with indescribable grief, we announce the sad demise of our esteemed Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Puratchi Thalaivi Amma at 11.30 pm,” the hospital said in a statement. As Jayalalithaa’s death became known, a loud wail rent the air outside the Apollo hospital where thousands had gathered since her cardiac arrest on Sunday evening, hoping against hope that she would survive. Two hours after the announcement of her death, in a swift political transition, her loyalist O Panneerselvam was sworn in as Chief Minister at a sombre ceremony at the Raj Bhawan along with all the ministers in the erstwhile Jayalalithaa Cabinet.

All these administrative decisions aside, the Tamil Nadu government announced seven-day mourning period in the state and also said that schools and colleges will be shut for the next three days. It was also decided that Jayalalithaa will be laid to rest next to her mentor MG Ramachandran in Chennai’s Marina Beach.

Here is how the Tamil Nadu government has planned Jayalalithaa’s funeral.

Will be laid to rest next to MGR

Probably one man who was responsible and highly-instrumental in Jayalalithaa’s success in politics was actor, filmmaker and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Marudhur Gopalan Ramachandran or lovingly referred to as MGR. Thrice elected as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, MGR was a maverick and helped Jayalalithaa create her political base. Therefore, it came as no surprise when AIADMK announced that the late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister will be laid to rest next to MGR at the Marina Beach.

Where and when

After AIADMK cadre brought Jayalalithaa’s body to her Chennai residence (in Poes Garden), the party announced that the funeral will take place at 4.30 pm at Marina Beach with full state honours. The coffin was soon taken to Rajaji Hall, in the heart of Chennai off arterial Anna Salai, where the public paid their last respects to their favourite leader. Four armymen covered her body with the Tricolour at Rajaji Hall.

This screengrab from Google Maps show the distance from Rajaji Hall, where Jayalalithaa's body has kept right now, till Marina Beach where she will be buried.

This screengrab from Google Maps show the distance from Rajaji Hall, where Jayalalithaa’s body has kept right now, till Marina Beach where she will be buried.

Security at Marina

Sources in Chennai told Firstpost that Kamarajar Salai or the road leading up to the MGR Memorial in Marina beach was heavily fortified with immensely tight security. “Several dignitaries, including the President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and other senior politicians will be present at the funeral. Police has put Chennai under a lockdown and till now security is air-tight,” the source said on the condition of anonymity.

According to Pheba Mathews of The News Minute, who is in Chennai reporting on the issue, Jayalalithaa will be buried, and not cremated as per Brahmin traditions, which she was born into. Police has been deployed and the entire stretch of Marina Beach has been cordoned off. Firstpost also found out that public will be allowed to observe the funeral.

Full state honours to be accorded

The Tamil Nadu state government has announced that Jayalalithaa will be accorded full state honours at her funeral and a seven-day mourning period has also been announced.

Life virtually came to a grinding halt on Tuesday morning as entire Chennai had joined everyone else at the Rajaji Hall. Deserted roads, shops with downed shutter spoke louder than any slogan ever could Public transport services, including auto rickshaws, were off the roads while some private vehicles were seen plying in various parts of the city where police personnel kept a tight vigil at vantage points. A near total shutdown like situation prevailed in the city and several other parts of the state since Monday evening itself.

The Centre also declared one-day state mourning across the country in view of Jayalalithaa’s death and said the National Flag will fly at half-mast in all state capitals including Delhi. The central government also decided to accord state funeral to the departed leader. “The Government of India today announced with profound sorrow the death of Selvi J Jayalalithaa, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, yesterday at Chennai.

“As a mark of respect to the departed dignitary, the Centre has decided that the national flag will fly half-mast in the capitals of all States/UTs, including Delhi and throughout the State of Tamil Nadu,” an official statement said.

However, the focus on Tuesday turned to Rajaji Hall where Jayalalithaa’s body is lying in state to enable public pay their homage. With even tea stalls, which usually do a brisk business in the early hours, remaining closed, mobile tea vendors could be seen dispensing the brew at some places. Hotels remained closed too. Suburban train services, however, were being operated in the city, albeit with lower passenger rush. Long distance trains arriving at Chennai Central and Egmore stations were on time.

The state government has declared a holiday today for its offices and three-days for educational institutions as a mark of respect to the departed leader.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 12:50 IST

After Jayalalithaa: Is there a plan for a successor to the people’s authoritarian?

J Jayalalithaa’s (her name is sometimes spelled Jayalalitha) death leads to two questions.

Was she, the four-time chief minister of the leading southern state, to be seen as a despot before whom even elected representatives right up to those in Parliament from her party cringed?

Or, was she a benign ruler who treated the state’s weak as those deserving of support by virtue of freebies and subsidising many essentials under the Amma brand?

She was both, ensuring she alone counted.

Other politicians in the party were reduced to flunkies, and provided her the numbers in the legislature to look to the poor. Enduring images are those of ministers prostrating before her while she wouldn’t even deign to glance at them. And of the public who stood in vigil outside the hospital as she battled for life, saying she ‘was God, there would be a miracle; she cannot die’.

File image of Jayalalithaa. AFP

File image of Jayalalithaa. AFP

There are two offices that have suddenly fallen vacant at the same moment, that of the chief minister, and the general secretary of the AIADMK. In the hierarchical political arrangement, the latter would have the superior status, calling the shots on behalf of the party. Jayalalithaa held both posts and that makes the succession process tricky. In a television interview to Prabhu Chawla long ago, Jayalalithaa had clearly said there was no succession plan, and whoever emerged as a person with strong grassroots supports would get her mantle. MGR, her mentor, had risen that way, and she had as well. Her successor too would have to be one with such credentials. But do we know of a single person in AIADMK who has that qualification?

Quite charismatic, Jayalalithaa’s silence and aloofness added to the mystique surrounding her. Her moves were studied used the surgical knife to cut out any nonsense as she saw it. If there was anyone close to her, it was Sasikala Natarajan, and if anyone knew Jayalalithaa’s mind, it was she. Even O Panneerselvam, twice the short-duration stop-gap chief minister had to wait for her bidding even while in office.

Would the friend now wield power regardless of who the next chief minister was, because she knew what Jayalalithaa knew and others did not? Or would that in itself bring her to the front as a chief minister? He or she who would be listened to by the MLAs, and the people, would hold the reigns, both de facto and de jure.

The very nature of the authoritarian conduct of a political party by its leader leaves behind the distinct possibility of confusion in the succession. Jayalalithaa did not make known her mind about who her successor would be, didn’t build a clear second rung which indicated a visible pecking order. It was as if power and person are tied together in perpetuity.

Pannerselvam will have had to conduct himself firmly to give the party that he was a strong man, even if at her behest, so that he was not fooled with now. He hardly ever tried, because that would have forked him out of the chief minister’s chair quicker than you could say, “Jack Robinson”. But the public image is of a cringing man who broke into tears, and conducted meetings with Jayalalithaa’s photograph bearing down on the cabinet.

Politicians are shrewd but there is no evidence to show that they, under her leadership, had developed sufficient heft of their own to make any strong bids to jostle for space in the top tiers. Bowing to her, or kowtowing, if you please, must have left them psychologically supine. It could be difficult to reengineer their DNAs.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 11:59 IST

Jayalalithaa dead: Family, friends mourn death of former Tamil Nadu chief minister

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