Dr. Jayalalithaa is no more, creating a huge vacuum in the TN political space, people could hate her or worship her but nobody could ignore her! Such was the aura that this iron lady of the south weaved over the masses that she ruled their hearts. A Melkote Iyengar from Karnataka, an acclaimed film star of the South she rose to power shadowing MGR, and reestablished AIADMK.
It was during the 1988 Tamil Nadu unrest after MGR’s death, the AIADMK had split into two factions, one headed by MGR’s wife Janaki Ramachandran who was not a popular leader and the other led by Jayalalithaa who was said to be the very close to MGR, hence the party was split with loyalists supporting their idols in all their idealism. MGR’s AIADMK had 132 seats out of 234 seats from the 1984 elections and now after his death, the party’s splitting had set the DMK dreaming of donning the throne.
After the elections although Janaki’s faction had garnered significant number of votes in comparison with Jayalalithaa led AIADMK and won the vote of confidence, the Rajiv Gandhi led Congress pulled down Janaki Ramachandran Government and ordered fresh elections.
After the elections the DMK was leading, Jayalalithaa had garnered more votes than the Janaki faction hence the Congress allied with both factions of AIADMK and forced the Janaki Ramachandran faction to integrate with Jayalalithaa’s faction under her leadership.
Thus the journey that began in the early 90s had no looking back, the stage was set and the path defined at Jaya’s commands, Jayalalithaa went on to become Amma among the masses with literally no scope for any other party or person to make a mark.
It was certainly not easy for a woman whose molestation in the assembly was engineered by her staunch opponents but her determination and courage coupled with her administration skills and appeal amongst the masses led her to a soaring win in Tamil politics.
Although she could have played a pivotal role in integrating Tamils with the nation and controlling the Christo-Islamic encroachment of Hindu souls instead of playing linguistic and socialistic power politics at the cost of tax payers money where she even chose to keep her people bereft of availing national policies like the electrification of remote villages fearing that it might deter her political image and always kept the poor poorer by introducing various rice bag like schemes – Amma canteens that provided Idlis at Re.1 and meals at Rs.5, these schemes were hailed by the lower sections in the society but these schemes that looks like a pro-poor social service at the outset were a dangerous policy of generating a breed of lazy incompetent people by providing the end instead of the means, but it was surely a hit in the Tamil Nadu politics with a whopping 70% reservations quota system in place and the benevolence of Amma canteens and life size posters of Amma all around the corners, there was hardly any scope for any other political party or person to make his mark!
She was convicted of being corrupt in the disproportionate assets case and even served jail terms only to be bailed out by the SC but what remains to be noted is that in India no politician is convicted and cordoned off the political corridors forever as has been the precedence in the past so many years and Jaya Amma was no exception although her name was more often more synonymously associated with either Cauvery water dispute or the Disproportionate assets case it cannot be denounced that there are several ministers across this nation whose disproportionate assets will never be questioned nor will their criminal cases ever be taken up in the top courts for real justice and the fact that the lady had the conviction and courage to speak her mind out and act ruthlessly is what defined and decorated her as an implementer.
She was one tough lady who had the guts to sack over one lakh striking Government employees overnight under the ESMA act (Essential services and Maintenance act) by arresting tens and thousands of employees and quashed the statewide outrage in a masterstroke that the same guys had to prostrate themselves before her to be reinstated!
Jayalalithaa had the guts to say what no BJP minister would straight away say.
She had commented that Pope John Paul II had no business or authority to comment on the anti-forcible conversion law that was enacted by her Government or any other legislation passed by democratically elected governments.
Amma made bold statements like “If Ram temple is not built in India where else will it be built? In Pakistan?”
It is another thing that she got the Kanchi Shankaracharyas arrested but she also got the pro-pope and anti-Hindu Karunaanidhi’s Lungi pulled!
Although the AIADMK and BJP were parties with similar thoughts they were unable to weave a good chemistry and their political marriage collapsed during Vajpayee’s reign where she harassed and tormented the ruling coalition government with several demands, where most of her demands to replace people even in the ED ( Enforcement Directorate) were met but her ultimate unreasonable demand of pulling down an elected TN government had pressed a non-confrontationist Vajpayee to heed to party veteran LK Advani who advised Vajpayee to call it quits and send out a message that appeasement should not be read as never ending weakness.
But strange is the world of politics where Amma had once demanded that the then Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy be made the finance minister to which the Vajpayee Government had said a big no and later she was running to the courts as a result of Swamy’s vehement pursuance of the disproportionate assets case! Now the BJP has realized the value of taking Swami’s economic lessons seriously and incidentally it was Swamy’s vehement anti-Congress and anti-dynasty statements and revelations that in many ways awakened the masses leading to grand BJP win!
But I cannot help but think, what if BJP had really dared to heed to Jaya’s eccentric demands, what if the BJP had pulled down the DMK then? It certainly wouldn’t hurt the national interests although it was based on self-obsessed personal power hungry interests!
But Jayalalithaa was a lady from the silver screen who valued reputation, limelight and could never take it lightly sitting down when ignored and it was important for her to stand up and be counted and it did not matter which side she stood, this is where the ideological foundation matters and this was perhaps one aspect where the BJP drew their lines!
Jaya’s falling health and its subsequent political strategies were very much indicated when the Karnataka CM played down the otherwise emotional Cauvery issue and yielded to the courts.
The Karnataka people had performed her funeral rites several times even while she was alive but the news of her cardiac arrest did upset a lot of folks here who were appalled at the ugliness of the human behavior where a sea of humanity waited for the death news of a lady who had checkmated many and people really hoped she would deceive death but at the end of the day every legend has to end.
With political vultures circling the Tamil horizon what remains to be seen is will the people of Tamil Nadu see the difference between ideology and idolism?