The lack of official information has triggered rumour mongering and widespread speculation.

Amid speculation on Jayas health media questions leadership vacuum in AIADMK
news Jayalalithaa Monday, October 03, 2016 - 16:09

It’s been 11 days since Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa was admitted at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai for “fever and dehydration”. But information from both the government and the hospital concerning the leader’s health continues to be limited, with only five medical bulletins released.   

The lack of official information has triggered rumour mongering and widespread speculation on Jayalalithaa’s health, and has caused panic and fear among her cadres and the general public

Read: That picture of Jayalalithaa in a hospital bed is fake and it is from Peru     

Two of the most read English dailies in the state, expressed concern over the lack of second-rung leadership in the state in the present absence of the Chief Minister.

In an editorial titled, Crisis management: Absence of second tier AIADMK leadership stands out in Tamil Nadu, The Times of India points out that “day-to-day governance has currently slowed down” owing to the centralised functioning of the AIADMK government.  The paper goes on to argue that the current episode demands a second line of leaders within the party given that “Jayalalithaa is AIADMK and AIADMK is Jayalalithaa” and her cabinet ministers are unable to take decisions independently.  

Citing the period following Jayalalithaa’s conviction in the DA case when O Panneerselvam was Chief Minister, the daily notes that no major decisions were taken between October 2014 and May 2015.

Calling on the party “to come up with a clear chain of command and delegate responsibilities accordingly,” TOI states that this would ensure governance does not stop especially in a highly industrialised state like Tamil Nadu and would also prevent infighting within the party.

The Hindu’s Readers’ editor AS Paneerselvan in a piece headlined ‘Journalism as collateral damage’ , highlights the “impenetrable iron curtain” confronting journalists, especially when it comes to verifying the authenticity of information. He compares the secrecy surrounding Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s health to the “excessive sound bites” regarding the “surgical strikes” by the Indian Army across the LoC.

While debating the right to privacy versus public interest regarding the health of a person holding public office, Pannerselvan, like TOI’s editorial, points out that Jayalalithaa is the “fulcrum” of her party with no real second-run leaders.  “Her health has a bearing on the national polity, and much larger political import in the State,” he writes noting that the AIADMK is the third largest party in parliament. Panneerselvan observes that the secrecy surrounding her health is neither good for the party nor for the state, stating that it “breeds unnecessary conjectures and assumptions”.

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