After Amma’s death, I have been reading a lot about this woman, not as a politician but as a woman and man I am impressed. You may criticize her way of politics,you may criticize her for the amount of corruption, you may criticize her blind trust first on MGR and then on Sasikala but you can’t deny the fact that this woman took it back on each and every person who turned her down. Reading Simi Garewal’s interview:
Simi: Jayaji, whenever a woman is successful, the world always manages to give the credit to a man. It seems to me that the greatest battles you have fought and won were after MGR died.
Jayalalithaa: You are absolutely right. Because as long as he was there, he was the leader. I only had to follow his instructions. After his death I was left to fend for myself. I was left totally alone. And he didn’t smoothen the way for me to become his success. He didn’t. Not like Indira Gandhi did for Rajiv Gandhi. She groomed him, paved the way so that he could smoothly move to take over as her successor. Now if you look at all the other women leaders who have made it to the top in Asia, they were all the daughters, wives or widows of former prime ministers or presidents. Because if you’re a wife, automatically so much respect is given to you. People talk about you, refer to you, with respect. But such wasn’t the case with me. Though Dr MGR introduced me to politics, he certainly didn’t smoothen the way for me, he didn’t make anything easy for me. I had to fight and struggle my way up every inch of the way.
Jayalalithaa stepped into the iconic shoes of MGR when there were words about his incapability as a woman. Her movie star charisma turned into unquestioned political authority where while once she was near to being disrobed on the floor of legislative assembly to turning Amma where she garnered huge respect among millions of Tamilians.
On December 24, 1987, Jayalalithaa had astounded mourners on the steps of the same hall when she fought exhaustion and swallowed her pride as she stood vigil by MGR’s body for two days despite efforts by MGR’s family to push her away.
Almost 30 years later, she returned to where she once stood as an other woman this time as a leader with a rich political legacy and a battalion of followers.
On March 25, 1989, trouble broke out even as Karunanidhi, who also held the finance portfolio, was presenting the budget and Jayalalitha, as the leader of the Opposition, was obstructing proceedings. She was very vocal in her demand that Karunanidhi resign. She summoned AIADMK MLA K.A. Sengottiyan to ‘attack’ the CM. In the pandemonium that followed, Jayalalitha was roughed up by DMK members led by Durai Murugan.
But Jayalalitha’s antipathy towards Karunanidhi dates back to MGR’s death. Karun-anidhi and his deputy K. Anbazhagan had then publicly denounced her as a political non-entity. During the 1989 assembly campaign, the DMK deliberately avoided mentioning her or her party, since Karunanidhi’s stand was that the AIADMK under Jayalalitha was an insignificant force. She has not forgotten the humiliation.
She took back every incident of humiliation, insult and shaming in a way that is historical. The images of teary eyed Jayalalitha not even flinching a little at MGR’s funeral is in itself a witness to the strong willed politician that she would turn out in future.
We all have a Jayalalitha within us, a revenge we want to take, equaling it with someone is on our wish list, a humiliation we want to give back. May we channel it into something as huge as Jayalalitha or learn to let it go.
#RIPAmma………You were one hell of a woman.