One day I spoke about the details that my colleague at media had written on Puratchi Thalaivi to one of my police friend who in-turn gave me a different version where he described her love for material goods and her dire need for power, That was the first time I started listening to what the natives had to talk about their Chief minister. And it was later, when my mom happened to talk about her that I decided to criticize Jayalalitha for the first time, unlike the listener I used to be till then. My mom patiently listened to all that I mentioned and she asked me only one thing. "Laxmi, please read about her past and the path she had to travel to reach where she is now before you comment on her" and she hung up the phone silently.
I had a negative opinion on her maybe because I was used to watching her leave her residence every day with some 13 vehicles moving together and the SUV in which she travels having four men hanging on to the doors hailing her (I felt pity for those men and felt that she did too much of showoff). After all the stories I have heard about her, her daily luxury routines of saffron milk and rose-milk bath etc. There were plenty of interesting facts as well as gossips about her. Her chair that she carried along with her wherever she goes, which initially was a joke for me, The way men had to bow before her and should not look at her face while talking to her etc made me feel like she was a lady Hitler.
All these opinions changed once I learned more about her. I became a dire admirer of Madam Jayalalitha Jayaram. I have never addressed her as Amma but Jayalalitha always, Since I am not her blind follower but an ordinary woman who admires her skills and crtiticized her faults.
First Interview of Jayalalitha I watched was Rendezvous with Simigarewal (To watch the interview click here) where I imbibed the transformation of a very emotional human being to one of India's most powerful and inspirational woman!
"Its been a tempestuous life" In Jayalalitha`s own words. Her journey from a film-star to a Chief Minister is worth reading, To my knowledge only one authentic biography of Jayalalitha is available online. (Click here)
The second Interview I watched among the very few she had given was the one with Karan Thapar where I was so glad to see the Devil`s advocate being royally slapped. (To watch the interview click here). I really became a fan of hers by the way she retorted his sarcastic remarks.
She is indeed remarkable. She has neither lost her temper nor she became emotional in public even when she was harassed a lot mercilessly. She encountered probably the highest documented insult that a woman has ever faced in a state Assembly when she was almost disrobed.This was in addition to being the recipient of lewd comments and hair pulling on the same day.
Two months ago on my way back from NewDelhi, I happened to enter into a discussion with a fellow traveler who used a colloquial slang while referring to Jayalalitha (which offended my feelings) all because she was found guilty in a corruption case by a magistrate court. He spoke fiercely against her. I admit the fact that she was greedy about Luxury but that doesn't make her a bad person, In fact politics itself is a dirty game. All that matters to me is what she has done for her people. She has given 70% to people even if she stole the rest all for herself. At least she makes sure that the 70% reaches her people promptly. She was a highly skilled administrator.
Since myself and my fellow traveler happened to be Keralites it was easy for me to ask him few questions about our own Kerala Government and the benefits he gained from our state government which I believe has lead him to realize the pity condition of our home State when compared to the neighboring state with far less resource than ours and a highly corrupted leader as he mentioned. To be honest I have never seen my state government reaching to the common class neither did I feel their presence in my daily life. Myself belonging to a middle class family, government is just a myth that existed in news channels throughout my student life. It was when I went to Chennai that I realized how effectively can a state government function.
I just asked him to mention 5 good things that Jayalalitha has done for her State before lifting his fingers against her and he was mute. I pity that the man who roared against the number of silk sarees she owned had no idea about her administration or her contributions to the development of TamilNadu.
I think, a reasonable criteria to become a critique is that you should know both the sides before you take one stand. And its a common trend that people are amused to criticize politicians especially if she is a woman with power.
I conclude by paying respects to the politician who broke gender barriers.
RIP Jayalalitha Jayaram.