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India: Madras high court questions Jayalalitha death cause

Court asks why the body of former chief minister J Jayalalitha cannot be exhumed for investigation.

Second ‘funeral’ for Indian politician Jayalalitha

A man claiming to be an estranged cousin of of J Jayalalitha conducts a cremation for her with an effigy.

Mourners shave heads for India’s Jayalalitha

Indians shave their heads as a mark of respect to late charismatic politician J Jayalalitha.

Jayalalithaa’s death: How international media covered the demise of the late Tamil Nadu CM

There were over thousands of police personnel deployed in Chennai after the death of J Jayalalithaa, the charismatic chief minister who held sway over Tamil Nadu politics for more than three decades with a pro-poor image. Lakhs of grieving men and women bid her a tearful adieu.

Such was the impact of Jayalalithaa’s death on Tamil Nadu and the country that many international newspapers and organisations also reported about her death.

J Jayalalithaa. PTI

J Jayalalithaa. PTI

BBC in an article said that “Jayaram Jayalalitha was one of India’s most colourful and controversial politicians, adored by some and condemned by others.”

The report also said that she was “naturally charismatic” and introduced a lot of schemes for the welfare of the poor. It also, however, said that the support she got “verged on the bizarre” as her supporters were known to have professed their loyalty through acts like walking on hot coals or drawing her portrait with blood.

It also talked about the allegations of corruption against Jayalalithaa in detail, mentioning how the police, during a raid on one of her premises, had found “more than 10,000 saris and 750 pairs of shoes.”

Another article in The Washington Post titled ‘Jayaram Jayalalitha, powerful Indian politician who broke gender barriers, dies at 68‘ said that “she was known as a secretive, somewhat imperious politician who rose to power despite India’s deeply patriarchal political system and was credited with developing her state and helping the rural poor.”

The article also talked about the corruption charges and disproportionate assets case against her and said that Jayalalithaa inspired a “cultlike devotion”.

The New York Times article titled ‘Death of Tamil Nadu’s Leader Leaves Power Vacuum in Southern India‘ focused on how Jayalalithaa’s death will affect the politics in Tamil Nadu. “Her death ushers in an uncertain period for the roughly 78 million people in Tamil Nadu, in part because it is unclear who will succeed her as leader of her party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam,” the article said.

“An American diplomatic cable, written in 2009 and released by WikiLeaks, said that Ms Jayaram’s ‘ruthlessness, including her willingness to sanction violence in pursuit of her goals, eventually reversed the traditional view of gender roles, leading the public to see Jayalalithaa as the toughest person in Tamil Nadu politics,'” it added.

A CNN article called Jayalalithaa the ‘goddess’ of Indian politics. “Jayalalithaa, a popular former Tamil cinema star, embodied the blurred lines between celebrity and government that define the state’s politics,” said the article, adding that her supporters praised her like she was “a living Hindu goddess.”

The Guardian called her “Tamil Nadu’s ‘iron lady'”. “She relentlessly challenged the male-dominated, sexist politics of Tamil Nadu that worked relentlessly to block her every step of the way,” the report quoted novelist Vaasanthi Sundaram, Jayalalithaa’s biographer, as saying.

The report also said that “she pioneered alternative energy and water harvesting schemes and reduced the rate of female infanticide”.

An article in Al Jazeera also said that “In the first half of 2014, Jayalalithaa made a bid to become India’s prime minister by saying she would form a coalition in New Delhi if no party dominated elections.” But as we know now, that wasn’t meant to happen.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 12:42 IST

Jayalalithaa’s demise: Meet the family members of late Tamil Nadu chief minister

The late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa breathed her last at 11.30 pm on Monday after suffering a cardiac arrest. She had been admitted to Chennai’s Apollo Hospital since 22 September after complaining of fever and dehydration. The actress-turned-politician, who joined the AIADMK under her mentor MG Ramachandran’s tutelage, remained a spinster all her life. But while she remained at the centre of Tamil Nadu politics, her family has seldom been in the limelight. Here are a few of the prominent family members of the departed leader.

N Ragachar:

Jayalalithaa’s paternal grandfather. According to the book Amma: Jayalalithaa’s Journey from Movie Star to Political Queen, written by veteran journalist Vaasanthi, he was a doctor who served the Mysore royal family during the reign of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV.

Rangaswamy Iyengar:

Jayalalithaa’s maternal grandfather, hailed originally from Tamil Nadu’s Srirangam, but moved to Bangalore. According to Vaasanthi’s 2016 book, he got a job at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in the Karnataka state capital. After her mother chose to enter the film industry in Chennai, Jayalalitha and brother Jaya Kumar remained in Bangalore with their grandfather, where Jayalalithaa went to the Bishop Cotton School.


Jayalalithaa’s father Jayaram was a lawyer but died when she was just two years old. According to Jayalalithaa: A Portrait, also written by Vaasanthi, Jayalalithaa wrote in the 1970s that her father died under mysterious circumstances after squandering the family wealth.


Jayalalithaa’s mother. After her husband’s death, Vedavalli went back to her grandfather’s house in Bangalore. In order to support her children, she took the job of a typist. However, unsatisfied with the meagre earnings it offered, she chose to try her luck in films. She adopted a screen name, Sandhya, and played character roles. She was instrumental in bringing Jayalalithaa into the film industry after the family suffered a financial crisis. She died in 1971. In an interview to Rediff, the late CM said that her mother had been a major influence on her.

Jaya Kumar:

Jayalalithaa’s brother, with whom she lived in Bangalore in her formative years. Relations between the siblings strained in the 90s following the death of Jayalalitha’s mentor MG Ramachandran. Jaya Kumar died in an accident in 1995, as per this report in The Indian Express.


Jaya Kumar’s daughter and Jayalalithaa’s niece. According to a report in The Times of India, she made numerous attempts top meet her aunt over the years, but was not allowed to do so. Back in 2014, following Jayalalithaa’s release from prison, Deepa and her husband tried to meet the AIADMK chief, but weren’t let in. Even when Jayalalithaa was ailing in hospital, she was all alone as Deepa was turned away by the police at the hospital.

VN Sudhakaran:

The nephew of Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala. Jayalalithaa once considered Sudhakran her foster son, but later disowned him. In September 1995, he was married off to Satyavati, the granddaughter of legendary Tamil actor Sivaji Ganesan. He was convicted in the disproportionate assets case, in which Jayalalithaa and Sasikala were also implicated, and sentenced to four years in prison.


Jayalalithaa’s elder step-brother, who according to this report in Deccan Chronicle, was the son of Jayaram, who married Vasudevan’s mother Jayamma before marrying Jayalalithaa’s mother. Estranged from Jayalalithaa, Vasudevan currently lives in obscurity in a village in Mysuru district.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 17:36 IST

Jayalalitha hints at recovery in ‘rebirth’ letter

Ailing Indian politician Jayaram Jayalalitha hints at recovery in a letter that describes a ‘rebirth’.

Jayalalitha’s health has a state on edge

India’s Tamil Nadu state is awash with rumours about the health of Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalitha, who is in hospital, reports TS Sudhir.

India ‘meteorite death’ to be probed

Indian scientists have been asked to examine claims that a man died after being hit by a meteorite in southern Vellore city.

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