Jayalalithaa's first death anniversary: AIADMK has still not learnt any lessons

Akshaya Nath
Akshaya NathDec 05, 2017 | 18:56

Jayalalithaa's first death anniversary: AIADMK has still not learnt any lessons

High security amid a sea of inconsolable people wailing aloud - "Amma, Amma, Amma" - what best described December 5, 2016, soon after the demise of J Jayalalithaa. One year later, things were not any different at Kamarajar Salai in Chennai near the shores of Marina Beach where the late chief minister was laid to rest.

From 5am onwards, people started making a beeline for the mausoleum, waiting for their turn to pay their respects to Amma, but only after political bigwigs cleared the place.  

“We don’t have anyone who wants to take care of us. Everyone is fighting with each other. Only Amma cared for our well-being. It is only because of her that I have a house now,” said Soundarya, an AIADMK cadre from Royapuram. 

“There is no Tamil Nadu without Amma. Look at our state now? Would this have happened if Amma were alive?” asked Sukanya, another cadre from Saidapet. For the AIADMK, it has been a particularly bumpy ride. There have been too many splits and reunion within the party for anyone to keep count of. 

Just as the bright sunny day began, the drama at the Amma Memorial too kicked off. AIADMK spokesperson  Apsara Reddy was stopped at various points before she could enter the memorial. “This is an intentional attempt to pull us down. But you see I have made it all the way here and we represent this perseverance in everything that we do,” said Reddy. 

By 10am, in a well-coordinated attempt, leaders of the AIADMK EPS-OPS faction descended for a "silent march" - all dressed in black shirts and white dhotis. Senior leaders, including O Panneerselvam (OPS) and E Palaniswami (EPS) began their peace march from Anna Statue to Marina Beach.

Thousands of party cadres also joined the march waving flags and placards of the two leaves symbol. Massive hoardings and arches every 10 metres dotted the entire stretch.

The state and its political leaders hardly seem to have learnt anything from the recent tragic death of a 32-year-old software engineer, K Raghu. Not despite facing widespread backlash. Raghu was killed in an accident when his two-wheeler hit a temporary wooden arch that was erected to welcome chief minister E Palaniswami during his visit to Coimbatore.

After Raghu fell off his vehicle, a lorry ran over his body, killing him on the spot. According to the police, the wooden arch was erected without official permission.

Raghu’s death triggered a massive political row in Tamil Nadu, but the tragic incident didn't stop AIADMK politicos from showcasing their devotion to their dead leader.

Both EPS and OPS seemed very much in control with supporters in tow.

“OPS and EPS have the two leaves symbol and they are the real AIADMK. We will support the two leaves symbol and that alone,” said Shankar, a spectator who was waiting since 5am for the peace march to begin. 

At the finishing point, it was a sea of humanity with people pledging to take forward the "legacy of the AIADMK", the "teachings of Jayalalithaa".

Around 12.30pm, entered an open jeep with a huge photograph of Jayalalithaa accompanied by TTV Dhinakaran and aides. They began their march from Anna Statue. Dhinakaran, as always, exuded confidence even as he acknowledged his supporters.

“We know Sasikala and her family have lived with Amma for 33 years and we are confident that if Amma trusted her, we too will have to,” said a supporter of the TTV faction.

“He is our youth leader,” screamed another. 

Once the mega-processions concluded and the leaders left,  what remained were a few grassroots cadres (still waiting for their turn to pay their respects to their beloved Amma) and the mess left behind that glistened under the December sun.

Last updated: December 05, 2017 | 20:05
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