As a fearless political icon, Jayalalithaa known as Amma changed the overall political character of the state by ruling for over 14 years between 1991 and 2016 on the basis of her performance doing away with a caste or vote based politics.
Amma scripted history in 2016 by becoming the sixth time chief minister of Tamil Nadu even breaking the records set by her own mentor and AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran. She had to work very hard in face of stiff opposition by male dominated party rooted in Dravidian ideology.
Though she was pushed into two high profile careers in film line and later in politics but she worked committedly and wholeheartedly as an actor and later as a dynamic leader where she went to any length to removing hardships of the people that won her a loyal following of millions, who were ready to lay down their lives for her well-being.
Her style of functioning was such that she would not spare even her party cadres for creating obstacles in implementing the policies for the welfare of the people irrespective of their castes. Bureaucrats were enjoying upper hand in telling ministers how to implement procedures and nuances of governance and Amma relied on them in toto.
She has left a deep imprint on the Psyche of the people of Tamil Nadu who would see all their dreams being fulfilled through her and would worship her a Goddess and keep her photo in her pockets.
Hailed as Puratchi Thalaivi (Revolutionary leader) Jayalalithha struck alliances with DMDK and Left parties, wielded an iron hand to break the power of labour unions. Jayalalithaa’s health declined after her imprisonment in September 2014 in a disproportionate assets case in which she was acquitted less than eight months later.
Three years after the death of MGR in 1987 Amma won the 1991 elections by galvanizing the support from the rural poor despite the stiff opposition from senior leader R M Veerappam and MGR’s wife Janaki. She drew a token salary of Re 1. Emerged as the leader of the people, perceived ‘as a saviour’ as she launched several welfare programmes like subsidies and concessions in the PDS, in health and education, providing cycles to girls and laptops to college-goers, they are all investments in building capabilities. Expenses on such things as mobile phones, grinders and the like do not amount to much in relative terms as a share of government expenditure. Assistance of Rs 50000 for a girl’s marriage, Amma Canteen, Amma Water, Amma Salt. She started a scheme where food was given to the people at cheap rates Rs 2 and Rs 5 for a whole meal.
In direct contrast to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s approach of implementing schemes that have entailed even the death toll of about 100 people causing further misery to their dependents within a month of demonetisation, Modi is more concerned in seeing his policies being translated into votes where as Amma would ensure about the well-being of each and every tamilians being safeguarded in the country even when they were living in North India. Modi always takes into account the consideration of his partymen and cabinet but ignores the concerns of the poor to middle class people rather suspecting them of eating away nation’s wealth.
When Amma was declared dead, the continuous prayers in the state for her recovery burst into heart-rending scenes of wailing in the entire state of Tamil Nadu.
Article Courtesy : Arti Bali, Senior Journalist & Analyst