Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the leader of the AIADMK party, J Jayalalithaa passed away on 5th December, near midnight. This was after a prolonged medical battle, shrouded in secrecy. She was admitted to Apollo Hospital in Chennai on 22nd September and was undergoing treatment there. A statement put out by the hospital revealed that she suffered a massive cardiac arrest on 4 December and could not recover from that.
The news of her passing away evoked a vast range of emotions. Her die-hard fans were obviously distraught at the sad news of their leader passing away mid-way into an unprecedented second consecutive term as Chief Minister. Not only her core supporters, but people from across the country paid rich tributes to her, and in the process, some unknown or relatively lesser known facets of her life came to the fore.
Journalist J Gopikrishnan, who was at the forefront of breaking the 2G scam, remembered the late former CM’s role in pushing the news into the mainstream so that it wouldn’t die down:
Remembering Jayalalithaa’s help in publishing certain aspects of 2G Scam & her stern efforts to raise each Pioneer report in Parliament. RIP
— J Gopikrishnan (@jgopikrishnan70) December 5, 2016
Another social media user recalled the testing times Jayalalithaa had to go through during her long political career. A clipping from an interview given by her, where she revealed how she was manhandled and attacked in the Tamil Nadu assembly by MLAs of the DMK, which ended up in her leaving the assembly in tears and a torn saree:
Wow! Never knew about this humiliation and vow of Amma. She indeed was Iron Lady. Need to find this full interview. pic.twitter.com/rqivdqGWET
— Namrata (@dixitnamrata) December 5, 2016
Jayalalithaa claimed that day she took a vow to not step into the assembly till Karunannidhi was unseated as the CM, and she fulfilled her vow in about two years, when she took oath as Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister.
Some also reminisced about her stint in the Rajya Sabha, when she tore into the turncoat politicians of Jammu and Kashmir, while speaking on the Constitutional Status of Jammu & Kashmir :
When Amma lacerated Farooq, the turncoat. Read these words and lament that this man is still relevant in Kashmir while she has passed. https://t.co/XMwUfF530K
— Nikhil Mehra (@TweetinderKaul) December 5, 2016
The full speech (pdf link) makes for a very compelling reading.
Some also remembered her bold statement in 2003, in relation to the anti-forcible conversion law passed by her in Tamil Nadu, when she rebuked no less than the Pope:
It is very strange and saddening to see that when such acts are perpetrated against the minority people in the country, all political party leaders rush to condemn them, but when the majority people are subjected to similar perpetration of heinous crime, not a single political leader has so far issued a statement condemning this barbaric crime. It is not as though a crime is a crime only if it committed against the minority community people and not so if it is committed against the majority community.
Another of her interview which was widely cited was when she took on Karan Thapar. Thapar was as venomous and pretentious as he always was, but a cool Jayalalithaa matched him for each punch, without once losing her temper, even though Thapar tried his best, and finally showing her displeasure with style:
Jayalalithaa may have swung between supporting the different political formations at the centre, she may not have had a blemish-free political career, but her views on many of the taboo topics of even today, are worth appreciating.