For over a month now, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, has been hospitalised. It’s welcome news that she is slowly but surely recovering.
Jayalalithaa has been a unique phenomenon, emerging as the most powerful politician of Tamil Nadu. The switch from an actor to a leader was not easy. The odds were stacked heavily against her. During MGR’s long hospitalisation, the old guards under-estimated Jayalalithaa’s prowess and side-lined her. The split of the party helped the DMK come back to power in 1989. I was covering the assembly and remember DMK leaders, including M Karunanidhi and Duraimurugan, hurtling insults and innuendos during the assembly session on 25 March 1989.
An indefatigable fighter, Jayalalithaa captured power in the 1991 election that was called in the aftermath of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination after dismissal of the DMK government. The DMK won just two seats. Under her leadership, the AIADMK won again in the 2001, 2011 and 2016 elections. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the AIADMK won 37 of the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu. Besides, it also has 11 members in the Rajya Sabha, thus having a strong presence in the Parliament as well. Jayalalithaa has been the sole campaigner for her party. Her extensive campaigns across the state have been responsible for her party’s overwhelming success. Naturally, she commands total loyalty of her partymen. She has taken on herself onerous responsibility in administering the state. These understandably have taken a heavy toll on her health. But, known for her indomitable fighting spirit, I hope her will power and the efforts of the specialist doctors, will help her regain full health.