TS Venkatesan from Chennai
It is a million dollar guess what is actually wrong with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s health following her hospitalisation. Except her close confidante Sasikala and some of her relatives, even the top bureaucrats and police officials have been kept in dark. The 68-year-old Jayalalithaa was admitted in Apollo Hospital for fever and dehydration on September 22.
Normal life came to a standstill in parts of Chennai, especially around Graems Road, where Jayalalithaa has been hospitalised. Barring for ambulances, no other vehicle was allowed to get through the main entrance of the hospital, which led friends and family of the people already being treated at the hospital to walk a certain distance into the building.
The social media are agog with rumours about her health. She did not attend the Iftar Party she was to host on July 1, citing sudden illness. Even though her supporters can slam those who ask questions, being the Chief Minister of a state as big as Tamil Nadu, questions will arise when the head of the state goes AWOL.
When it comes to Jayalalithaa’s health, her supporters are blind too. “We fully believe that she will recover and come out of the hospital soon. She has given cycles and laptops to the students and what not, she has started Amma Unavagam (a subsidised food programme) for us, and so nothing will happen to her,” an ardent vassal said. The cadres performed special poojas in all temples, offerings in kind and cash were performed for the speedy recovery of their leader.
The first rumour of her ill-health surfaced after she failed to make many public appearances and the DMK issued a statement asking for a full disclosure on what she's suffering from. DMK chief M Karunanidhi alleged there was a lack of transparency in the State with Jayalalithaa unable to perform her duties owing to her illness. “You please take rest and take care of your health. A Chief Minister of state should be transparent,” Karunanidhi, who isn't in the pink of health himself, was quoted as saying in a statement in July 2015. Jayalalithaa slapped a defamation case against Rediff.com for a report. The complaint claimed that the article, which was unverified, tarnished the Chief Minister's image. A report in ‘Tehelka’ at the same time, claimed that Amma might be travelling to Texas for a kidney transplant as a consequence of renal failure caused as a side effect of consuming a drug by the name of Pethidine.
This year talks about her health have been considerably less as compared to 2015. Concern over her health isn't completely unfounded. After She took over regime second time in May 2015, her swearing-in was just 25-minutes-long affair where she struggled to walk. She attended the Secretariat only twice; the state cabinet had not met even once since she returned as the Chief Minister and she even inaugurated the Chennai Metro through video conferencing. In fact, her absenteeism was conspicuous after she returned as CM in May last year. “She was seen wincing while walking from her car to her office one day and had to hold on to the railings for a few minutes,” an official recalled.
But given her secretive nature, Jayalalithaa has never revealed the exact diagnosis of her condition. It led to theories abound about what actually ails Jayalalithaa. A chronic diabetic known to have arthritic knees, she is now apparently suffering from under-performing kidneys and gangrene in her toes, which is said to have affected her ability to walk.
Tamil Nadu acting Governor C Vidyasagar Rao visited Apollo Hospital and said she was recovering well. Apollo Hospital reported that the current treatment plan was based on the detailed discussions doctors had with British doctor Richard Beale, a consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at Guy's and St. Thomas Hospital, London.
The unease calm in Fort Saint George, the seat of power, is bothering all. As the CM is away in hospital, all Ministers and Secretaries are not to be seen around. It wears a deserted look. Governance has come to a total grinding halt. Lack of a second-rung leadership among the political executives to call the shots when the CM has been hospitalised for more than 10 days is a real cause of concern. n