After a nerve wracking Monday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, lost her grim battle with life at 11.30 pm, as per a press release issued by the Apollo Hospital authorities. Heightened security after 11 pm at the hospital premises confirmed the worst fears of the towering leader’s many followers in Chennai and across the country. She leaves behind a legacy that will be tough to fill.
The MLAs and top leaders met informally in the hospital on Monday morning and were later called to the party headquarters for further consultations. Party sources, however, said the second meeting was postponed but gave no indications about when they would meet again.
Finance Minister O Panneer-selvam, who had on two earlier occasions stood in for Jayalalithaa as Chief Minister when she was convicted in two corruption cases, figured as a possible successor. Panneer-selvam, left the hospital late in the night and reached the party headquarters where MLAs were in a huddle.
Confusion prevailed earlier in the evening after AIADMK headquarters brought down the flag of the party at half mast after the TV reports, triggering commotion outside Apollo gate. #RIPJayalalithaa started trending on Twitter soon after the news broke. However, after Apollo’s denial, the flag at AIADMK headquarters was again raised, bringing relief to the Chief Minister’s supporters.
Jayalalithaa, who has been in Apollo since September 22, suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday evening and was put of life support by the doctors. A team of experts including London-based Dr Richard Beale is constantly monitoring her condition.
However, the hospital has maintained that the condition of Jayalalithaa is critical and best possible treatment is being provided for her speedy recovery. A near total shutdown like situation prevailed in Chennai with shops and other establishments downing shutters and office goers returning home early as CM Jayalalithaa’s health condition continued to remain critical on Monday.
The entire area in and around Apollo Hospitals, where she is being treated since September 22, resembled a fortress with traffic completely halted on the road leading to the hospital and a heavy police posse deployed. At the hospital hundreds of AIADMK party workers continued to stay put and raised slogans saying their beloved ‘Amma’ should recover.
Some were seen protesting against some TV channels, which aired wrong news of Jayalalithaa’s health condition earlier in the evening.
Elsewhere in the city, a bandh-like situation prevailed with relatively less traffic on the roads.
Educational institutions sent students home early in the afternoon, while several offices asked their staff to leave early.
By dusk, roads started wearing a deserted look, even as groups of anxious people huddled in discussions over the condition of 68-year-old AIADMK supremo.
Shops, including petty outlets, eateries and departmental stores, closed shutters, even as people stocked essentials.
Many bus and suburban rail stations wore a near deserted look by 7.00 pm itself while the number of private vehicles was also less on many roads. The usual weekday peak hour rush was absent with comparatively less number of commuters seen travelling on the Tambaram-Beach suburban train route.
The busy Rangananthan Street in the commercial district of T Nagar also emptied soon.
A report from Madurai said similar situation was witnessed in the temple city and many other towns in south Tamil Nadu where shopkeepers downed shutters and people scurried home.