Universally, death is considered a complete standstill. However, in politics, it is a tactic – it is a step forward, a move, an opportunity. The sudden demise of the ‘South Indian actress-turned-politician’, Jayalalithaa Jayaram, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, came as a major shock. Not only to the common people, but also to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who personally attended her funeral to pay his respects. Prime Minister Modi’s account with Sasikala, Jayalalithaa’s closest friend and confidante, was most notable as he changed the entire political stratagem with just one gesture
Jayalalithaa, fondly known as “Amma” or the “Iron Lady”, was admitted to Apollo Hospital in Chennai on 22 September 2016 and was treated for fever and dehydration for over two months. On 5 November, Apollo Hospital’s chief said that she was recovering. On 4 December, another statement was released by the doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, who said that she was ready to go home after having recovered completely and continue her 14-year-long term as Chief Minister. However, a few hours later, a statement was released revealing that Jayalalithaa had suffered from cardiac arrest and passed away.
With the Chief Minister’s chair empty in Tamil Nadu, the southernmost state in India, it was predictable that a power struggle was near. However, to avoid this during the mourning of the Iron Lady, O. Panneerselvam, another Indian politician who had served under Jayalalithaa previously, was appointed as the interim Chief Minister. The struggle now begins between two of the major rival political parties in North India, Congress and BJP, which are trying to spread their influence in the South. Jayalalithaa’s party is the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (AIADMK). The leader of DMK (AIADMK’s opposition party), M Karunanidhi was also admitted to the hospital around the same time as Jayalalithaa and has now recovered completely, DMK’s presence in the next election is very evident, especially under the leadership of Karunanidhi’s son, M. K. Stalin.
Most recently, Sasikala was made the General Secretary of the AIADMK. Thus, the controversy begins. Sasikala and Jayalalithaa shared a rare affinity towards each other; a bond so special that Sasikala even lived in Jayalalithaa’s permanent residence. However, recent claims made by various sources stated that Sasikala and her husband, Natarajan, slowly poisoned Jayalalithaa and that she did not actually die of a heart attack.
Firstly, Jayalalithaa was kept in absolute confinement during her time in the hospital. Initially, very few people were allowed to see her and eventually no one, not even her niece. Sasikala, however, was in charge and by her side at all times. A rumor claimed that it was actually Sasikala who developed the plan to poison her and appointed a nurse to add arsenic poison to Jayalalithaa’s sedatives and chemicals. In 2011, PM Modi had allegedly warned Jayalalithaa of certain people in her inner circle who were trying to plot an assassination against her. In the same year, Sasikala and her family were expelled from Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden mansion. The Mannargudi clan, or the ‘Mannargudi Mafia’, is Sasikala’s extended family, whom Jayalalithaa was most concerned about, especially after PM Modi informed her about their growing influence on various important posts in the AIADMK. Later that year, several members of the Mannargudi Mafia were imprisoned and expatriated. According to hearsay, Jayalalithaa actually died 3 days prior to the date declared by the media. The reason for this misinformation was that her party was allegedly sorting out the official papers for the transfer of power and hence, declared her death at a later date.
There are multiple claims or allegations being made about how Amma really died because no one has been able to gain access to the official hospital reports. However, sources claim that there is an insurmountable evidence that strongly points towards Sasikala, Natarajan and the doings of the Mannargudi Mafia and why they had every incentive to kill her, the main one being power. A minuscule shift of power has already started with Sasikala being appointed the General Secretary of the party. PM Modi has also played it smart by aligning with Sasikala. At Jayalalithaa’s funeral, he placed his hand on her head indicating that the two parties, BJP and AIADMK, were on the same side. This was a powerful gesture and removed any chance of AIADMK opposing BJP, whose primary goal is to gain control and more support in the southern states but this also means that the next move is up to Congress.
This article was written by a guest journalist:
Arya Shah, 17, India – An Indian girl who loves reading, especially when it is about politics or history in general, although she does enjoy a good conspiracy theory from time to time!
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