Senior party members were worried at the speed with which her power was growing, and that this novice party member might soon be given a cabinet post, but MGR had other views. He needed someone smart in Delhi who could mediate between him and the Centre. Jayalalithaa spoke excellent English. She was fluent in Hindi too. On 24 March 1984 he announced that Jayalalithaa had been nominated for the Rajya Sabha. The seat given to her in the Rajya Sabha was Number 185, the same that C.N. Annadurai had occupied when he was an MP in 1963.
Jayalalithaa stole the scene wherever she was. Her maiden speech at the Rajya Sabha was widely acclaimed for its clarity of diction and elegant prose. Khushwant Singh, a fellow Rajya Sabha member, gushed that here was a beauty with brains. Even Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was impressed.
MGR now wanted Jayalalithaa to meet Indira Gandhi. Solai, who had also been sent to Delhi by MGR to be with Jayalalithaa, describes the meeting: ‘Congress was in alliance with the DMK. Our proposal was that Congress must have an alliance with the AIADMK. Jayalalithaa was told to impress this point on the PM. Jayalalithaa was given only ten minutes but they spoke for thirty minutes. Indira Gandhi was so impressed that when we were returning she sent Moopanar, Tamil Nadu Congress leader, on the same flight to broker the alliance.
‘But after the meeting with Indira Gandhi, Jayalalithaa did not at once report on it to MGR, as she should have done since she had been deputed by him. MGR was naturally anxious about the outcome. When we were returning from Indira Gandhi’s house I told her, please speak to the leader about the meeting. She said “that will be done” a little carelessly. But she didn’t. MGR called me to ask what had happened. We departed the same day for Chennai and I asked her on the flight, “Didn’t you tell thalaivar about the visit?” She said, “We are anyway meeting in person now. I thought we could convey it all then.” This behaviour of hers, taking him for granted, sent out a wrong signal to MGR.’
She seemed to be becoming too big for her boots. The senior members around MGR kept stoking the cinders to ultimately create a conflagration.
Whether it was to pacify her detractors or to rein in Jayalalithaa, MGR announced at the party’s general body meeting that he was removing Jayalalithaa from the post of propaganda secretary.
MGR could see that the prominence he had given to Jayalalithaa had virtually split the party into two. His trust in her was slowly eroding.
Excerpted with the permission of Juggernaut Books from Amma: Jayalalithaa’s Journey from Movie Star to Political Queen by Vaasanthi exclusively available on the Juggernaut app