Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s death was confirmed by Apollo Hospitals early on Tuesday morning. The hospital, where she was being treated since September, said the death came at 11.30 pm on December 5. “It is with indescribable grief that we announce the sad demise of esteemed CM,” read the statement. Shortly after her death, O Panneerselvam, her lieutenant, took oath as the chief minister of the state.
J JAYALALITHAA, known as Amma for her popularity and people-oriented policies as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, died on Monday night, according to authorities at Apollo Hospitals in Chennai, where she had been undergoing treatment since September 22. She was 68.
Jayalalithaa, who started as a teenaged actor and followed in the footsteps of her political mentor, the movie superstar and former chief minister M G Ramachandran, was the first mainstream woman leader at the helm of a political party in Tamil Nadu. She led the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), India’s second regional party and the third largest in Parliament currently, with 37 Lok Sabha seats. Well-mannered, sometimes short-tempered, at times faulted for her autocratic style of functioning, Jayalalithaa led AIADMK to four straight election wins and was chief minister in separate stints for almost 15 years.
Jayalalithaa’s first term as chief minister in 1991 — three years after the death of MGR and following a series of tussles within the party with another senior leader R M Veerappan and MGR’s wife Janaki — was a mixed bag of successes and setbacks. Known as the youngest chief minister of the state, who drew a token salary of Re 1, that stint is still being remembered for various several social welfare programmes, which were later recreated in other states.
Apart from the “cradle baby” scheme for the adoption of abandoned girl children, Jayalalithaa also kickstarted several notable public-health programmes, including the formation of state-run pharmaceutical companies and distribution of medicine.