Jayalalitha – India’s Iron Lady and Colourful Politician Dies After Heart Attack

Published On:December 6, 2016, 11:29 am

One of India’s most persuasive and colourful politicians, J Jayalalitha, has died at 68.

The chief minister of Tamil Nadu state in India, J Jayalalitha also known as the Iron Lady, suffered a heart attack on Sunday night and died at 23:30 local time (18:00 GMT) on Monday in Chennai’s Apollo Hospital.

Mammoth number of supporters had gathered outside the hospital to pray for her speedy recovery. Extra police forces have been positioned in the southern state of India amidst fears of unrest amongst her followers.

Jayalalitha was a former film star who served as Tamil Nadu chief minister four times. She had been admitted in the hospital on 22nd September 2016 and ever since then had been undergoing treatments.

She is profoundly honoured by many but seen by her opposition as having created a cult of personality over the years.

There is a widespread fear that her death might spark an unrest given the supreme devotion she revolutionizes amongst her supporters, and she is fondly referred as ‘Amma” (mother).

Previously rumoured reports of her death, which were quickly withdrawn, actuated tussles between the police and her supporters outside the private hospital.

Overwhelming tributes began to pour for the Iron Lady as soon as her death was formally confirmed by Apollo, where she had been admitted for months.

Jayalalitha's party, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), lowered the flag to half-mast prior to hoisting it up once more, the party even tweeted “our beloved leader, the Iron lady of India... Amma, is no more".

Numerous people had lined the streets leading out of the hospital, in spite of it being long past midnight; just to catch the last glimpse of the woman they called “Amma”.

When the ambulance carrying her body emerged from the main gate, a cry went up as supporters shoved forward to make an attempt to get a closer view of the vehicle, plenty of them were even wailing.

Her heir as chief minister, the entire cabinet, topmost officials and several followed. Presently, the action has shifted to Poes Garden, the neighbourhood which has been her home for the past several decades.

The party's Twitter account confirmed that, “A senior AIADMK politician, O Panneerselvam, was sworn in as the chief of Tamil Nadu within hours of her death.” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to offer his condolences. He tweeted, "I will always cherish the innumerable occasions when I had the opportunity to interact with Jayalalithaaji (honorific). May her soul rest in peace."

Jayalalitha lived a dramatic life, even while she was an iconic actress and even when she served as a politician. Prior to entering politics in the early 1980s, she has appeared in more than 100 films.

She was even accused of corruption on many occasions, and had spent two short spells in prison. A Karnataka high court order in 2015, cleared her of involvement in a corruption scandal, surfaced the way for her return to power.

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