Amma’s passing away has created a challenge before all those who are concerned with the future of India to make it as one of the most advanced, industrialised and high GDP nations
Chennai mourned like a baby. The moment we landed, an eerie silence was visible. Roads wore the chador of sadness. A city that never slept was a picture of an abandoned land. A lifeless, stillness descended on everything and it created an instant void in the visitor.
At Marina, her final resting place, a sea of people bid her adieu on the shores of Bay of Bengal.
The vivacious, Jayalalithaa, who ruled on her own terms, who created her own rules of the political game, who reigned supreme in the face of all conceivable odds, and emerged victorious every time, finally bowed before the death and made an exit from the show.
And what an exit it was! You could feel her presence even in her death.
Men, women, children, friends and arch foes mourned alike. She was taller than life after her demise. What made her such an iconic figure? Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first to mourn her death at 12.22 am on December 6, moments after her death was announced. RSS, VHP, and ever one who other agreed or differed mourned.
I think the turbulent times she had since her elevation to stardom, the isolation, the ruthless, merciless
opponents, from within and without, and the turmoil at every step confronted turned her inwardly and more steely in her actions. She opened her state treasuries for the schemes for the poor and the girl child, women and the street urchins, famers and the priests and the hungry. She was unpardonable to the disobeying and spiteful opponents. She supported Ram Sethu, blasted UPA government, opposed Christian conversions, began pensions to the priests, hit hard at seculars on Godhra, stood by Modi, and became a refresher to citizens who were hurt and concerned at the rise of hateful, extremist postures of Dravidian politics often bordering to secession.
I had met her in Ahmedabad when she had come to attend Modi’s fourth term swearing in at Sardar Patel Stadium. She was a joy and delight personified. She said ‘its a moment of pride for us. I am sure he will go to Delhi very soon’, and she smiled while taking her seat seeing the sea of people greeting Modi.
She was supportive of Ramakrishna Mission and Matham at Chennai, it couldn’t have been possible with other Dravi outfits. Her support to Thiruvalluvar Payanam and effort to have his statue at Haridwar was
amazing and instant, she got more than 2,000 Hindu temples renovated-
something no other state government in India can boast of. Her minister publicly declared that Tamil Nadu
is experiencing a pro-spiritual government. Frontline quoted once, “Tamil Nadu today is under the spiritual rule of Jayalalithaa’—PC Ramasami, Minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments in Jayalalithaa govt at Kumbakonam in Thanjavur on March 6, 20014.
She became a formidable wall to those who wanted to divide the society against Hindu dharma and the North. India’s oneness, unique civilisational contours were upheld in the government of AIADMK, barring certain
unfortunate unexplained exceptions.
Jayalalithaa was imaginative in her schemes like her mentor MGR who was the first in India to introduce
mid-day meals scheme. The largesse she distributed during election time often helped marginalised people and above all her health insurance scheme was lauded as one of the best and most effective in the country.
Her passing away has created a challenge before all those who are concerned with the future of India to make it as one of the most advanced, industrialised and high GDP nations. It must not be allowed to plunge again into the abyss of the dark extremism.
(The writer is a former MP and President of Students and Youth for Thiruvalluvar, Tamil Nadu)